Tampa Bay Beer Week officially kicks off Saturday, and this craft beer drinker is excited to celebrate. I've long been a fan of using beer in cocktails, and with the number of cool brews being made by local breweries, it's a great way to incorporate some one-of-a-kind flavors in your glass.
That's why, in honor of Beer Week, we're using something I've had my eye on for quite a while — Indio Hopka Hop Liqueur. See, I know my neighborhood liquor stores like an overnight stock clerk. I wader around Total Wine, like a weirdo, looking for new products, or sometimes just inspiration. And it's not unusual for one of these "research trips" to require a shopping cart.
Infused with Citra and Cascade hops, Hopka is essentially an IPA liqueur. It's pretty out there as far as flavor enhancers for cocktails go; I haven't seen another product like it. However, every time I'd roll past it with my booze buggy, I wasn't sure how or when to use it. Well, what better occasion than Beer Week to use a product that mixes the world of small-batch brewing with craft distilling?
Full disclosure: It did take me a while to figure out what to do with the hoppy Portland-made liqueur. But after lots of testing (I love my job), I found the right balance for a delicious drink. The floral notes of Campari even out Hopka's hop bitterness, while the citrus allows them both to pop and adds freshness. If you're not into Campari, a nice, less-in-your-face substitute is Aperol. The beauty of this week's cocktail is it works with either. You could stop there, but a touch of effervescence from club soda, or tonic, really sets this recipe off.
Happy Beer Week!
Campari on the Hops
1 1/2 ounces Indio Hopka Hop Liqueur
1 ounce Campari
1 ounce sweet vermouth
3/4 ounce lemon juice
Splash club soda
Fill a rocks glass with ice and add Hopka, Campari, sweet vermouth and lemon juice. Stir for about 30 seconds until chilled. Top with ice and club soda. Garnish with a lemon twist.