Beer cocktails are nothing new. Remember the Boilermaker -- a shot glass of whisky dumped in a beer? It was a blue collar, let's-get-down-to-business kind of drink, a little déclassé compared to the la-ti-da beer cocktails made today. But then, why wouldn't beer cocktails become more artisanal and interesting, given that both beer and cocktails have become more artisanal and interesting?
With so much emphasis, these days, on quality, it just makes sense that craft brews, which have flavor profiles similar to liquor -- giving off herbal, caramel or fruity notes of their own -- would become an integral part of an interesting drink. Beer adds flavor, depth and sometimes fizz to a cocktail, although it isn't necessarily a primary ingredient.
If you love beer or cocktails or both, here are eight beer cocktails you won't want to miss.
Mill Avenue mini-mogul Julian Wright (who also owns La Bocca Urban Pizzeria and Canteen Modern Tequila Bar) opened this bike-friendly, pooch-friendly Tempe hangout -- replete with 60-foot indoor-outdoor bar and cozy, landscaped beer garden -- nearly two months ago, offering 20+ craft beers on tap and six (SIX!) beer cocktails. Okay, one of them (The Paper Route: a can of PBR, a shot of Jameson and a Marlboro Red) is probably more suited to Stanley Kowalski than your average ASU hipster, but it's fun just the same. The Handlebar Shandy, on the other hand, is light, fizzy and refreshing, combining Stiegl Goldbrau lager with San Pelligino Limonata, agave nectar and simple syrup ($6). The rosemary garnish adds a hint of pine.
Peter Kasperski is famous (and infamous) for being a grape geek, but he and his crew at the Kazbar are equally well-versed in the cocktail world (Richie Moe, after all, is an alum). So it's no surprise that they turn out a beautiful beer cocktail. Served in a tall glass with a lemon garnish, the Framboizzotti blends Lindemans Framboise -- a lush purple Belgian fruit lambic that bursts with ripe raspberry and the tart-sweet, true flavor of raspberries -- with Ramazzotti, a lovely, syrupy Italian amaro with sweet, citrusy and faintly bitter notes. Together they make a gorgeously girlie drink that's sweet but not too sweet ($10). Watch out. They go down pretty easy. Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails
Cocktails of every sort are a big deal at Blue Hound, thanks to mistress of mixology Shel Bourdon. Right now, her menu offers two beer cocktails that reflect fall flavors through the use of liqueurs, fresh syrups and spices. She makes a warm, autumnal Punkin Chunkin using Appleton Rum, Averna, lemon and pumpkin-spiced syrup, topped with Stone IPA and garnished with nutmeg ($10). But the cocktail featured here is the elegant Spiced Apple Shandy, combining Spiced Apple Chartreuse, Belvedere vodka, lemon and celery bitters, topped with Lagunitas Pilsner ($10).
Bar manager Kevin Olbricht fell in love with shandies (beer cocktails traditionally mixed with non-alcoholic beverages such as lemonade or soda), when he was a younger (and far more frequently hung over) man.
Now he loves them for their complexity as well their restorative powers, offering up this frothy concoction called the Apple Ginger Shandy, which is made with Angry Orchard Apple Ginger (hard cider), Spicebox Whisky (a Canadian blend containing peppery rye and notes of vanilla), lemon juice, egg white and Singh Farms honey ($9). Citizen Public House
Mad Mixologist Richie Moe never shies away from experimentation or big, bold flavors, making him just the guy to come up with The Im-Port -- a manly man cocktail composed of Jameson Irish Whisky, tawny port, simple syrup, tobacco- and leather-infused bitters, edged with a smoked sugar rim and topped with whipped Deschutes Obsidian Stout foam ($12). Now picture the girl in the Irish Spring commercial trilling, "Manly, yes, but I like it too!"
You'll have to walk up the stairs to Citizen R+D (Moe's mad mixology lab) to get Hops + Dreams, made with Pineau de Charentes (a sweet aperitif made in France), Anchor Steam ale foam, popcorn tincture (don't you love that?), local raw honey and honey crystals ($10). Note the adorable garnish.
Granted, some people think beer is appropriate every morning, but for most of us, it's an occasional thing, like . . . say, a late weekend breakfast at BLD. Their Brass Monkey -- made with SanTan Hefeweizen, Thatcher's Blood Orange Liqueur and fresh-squeezed OJ -- is a modified Beer-mosa, which is to say, a Mimosa for the working man ($5). Power (and beer) to the people!