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Classic Mexican cheladas have inspired

a new wave of beer cocktails, including

this sweet-heat version featuring
mango syrup and chile.


NEW Mixologists are shaking up the cocktail scene, using wine

and beer to give new life to mixed drinks


here doesn’t seem to be much call today in bars As Beaumont tells it, there are basically three types of

T and restaurants for the rudimentary Red Eye (beer

and tomato juice) or the Wine Cooler (wine with
sparkling water or soda and fruit juice). But there’s
beer-based beverages: those made from a blend of two or
more beers; those served with an added ingredient or two;
and the full-fledged cocktail in which beer is simply
nothing wrong with the idea of mixing other flavors with another, albeit important, ingredient.
beer or wine to create drinks with new taste profiles. In Stout has always been a good mixer: The Black Velvet,
fact, a small but significant move is afoot to incorporate stout and Champagne, is a well-loved drink; newer
the two into contemporary cocktails. versions mix stout with other regions’ sparkling wines or
with sparkling cider. The Black and Tan, made from stout
BEER PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS or porter and ale, is perhaps one of the best-known of
“[Beer is] a whole new palette of flavors to work with,” says beer’s two-way blends, and the lowly Shandy comes in
Stephen Beaumont, author, with Brian Morin, of “The many varieties; most common are those made with ale or
Beerbistro Cookbook,” (Key Porter Books, 2009) and creator beer and lemonade, ginger beer or even sorrel tea.
of beer cocktails for the Beerbistro in Toronto, Canada. But with the vast number of different brews available
“Bartenders and mixologists have been playing around with today, crafting contemporary beer blends is within reach
all sorts of different culinary ingredients, making their own of any willing experimenter, and many mixologists use
shrubs and bitters, for instance, and completely ignoring the distinctly flavored craft brews as one of many ingredients
fact that we’re living amidst the greatest wealth of beer in a modern cocktail concoction.
flavors and styles that our society has ever seen.”
These flavors work perfectly in cocktail making, he WINE’S WEALTH OF FLAVORS
notes, offering new directions and possibilities for blended The same is true of wine. The average American consumer
beverages incorporating beer. can choose from a broader range of varietals, regions,
And why not? Flavorful blends of beer are as old as flavors and wine styles today than at any other time.
brewing itself. Kriek, a lambic-style Belgian brew, is “One of the benefits of drinking wine cocktails is that
fermented with sour cherries; framboise is similarly made our reach now is so great,” says A.J. Rathbun, author of
using raspberries. Belgian wit beers are often served with a “Wine Cocktails” (The Harvard Common Press, 2009).
lemon wedge to brighten the orange-peel-and-coriander “There’s a multinationalism of drinks out there — many
pop of the brew. Other regional recipes call for adding a more types and varietals of wines available and many more
dash of fruit syrup or liqueur to beer. types of ingredients to mix with them. You can make more Summer 2009 FLAVOR & THE MENU 119



Of course, to beer and wine aficionados,
adding anything post-production to their
favorite tipple seems sacrilegious. The odd
Champagne cocktail and old, standby beer
mixtures like the Black and Tan are
grudgingly accepted, but many contemporary
drinkers tend to burrow deeper into their
category of choice rather than experiment
with a mixologist’s creations.
But both beer and wine have long been
served mixed. Brewing cultures frequently
blended different beer styles or added
flavoring agents. In most European societies,
fortified wines (like vermouth and port) and
sparkling wines were the base for mixed
drinks, punches and fizzes.
Today, many wine-focused restaurant
operators see an advantage to serving
sparkling-wine cocktails, as their perceived
elegance makes them an easy entry point. At
the Purple Café and Wine Bar in Seattle, 16
Champagne cocktails appear on the wine list,
including most of the classics, like the French
75, made with gin and sweetened lemon juice,
and the Mimosa, made with orange juice.
Newer drinks like the Sea Captain’s Special
are made with rye, pastis and Champagne.

Other wine-based drinks, such as sangrias,
have become popular again, appearing in
many modern iterations on chain and

independent restaurant menus: Caribbean-

themed Bahama Breeze prominently features
four sangrias (spice berry, rock melon,
blackberry and mango), made with white, red
A.J. Rathbun, author of interesting drinks and take advantage of this or white zinfandel.
“Wine Cocktails,” mixes bounty of ingredients.” Restaurants serving a broad range of beers
up the traditional mimosa
In addition to boasting lower alcohol levels are also likely candidates to spearhead the
with vanilla and pear
flavors and a vanilla pod and broader flavor options, wine and beer can beer-cocktail trend. New York City’s Artisanal
for garnish. add complexity, high acids and depth to Fromagerie, Bistro & Wine Bar has developed
cocktails, all characteristics mixologists a reputation for serving special brews, and now
demand. Beer can inject a robustly grainy tang, the restaurant hosts Brew Tuesday, when beers
and those with hoppy notes add a welcome are discounted and pairings with cheese are
bitterness. Meanwhile, the flavor profiles of promoted. Last winter, the program expanded
wines can include pineapple, vanilla, apple, to feature five beer cocktails.
pear, blackberry, cherry and other fruit notes. “It’s something interesting for the beer
Due mainly to their lower alcohol content, beer drinker,” says Artisanal’s beverage director,
and wine drinks provide a better match for most Ian Nal. “We have a lot of guests who are
spicy cuisines: high-alcohol beverages leave a serious about beer, and it gives them a chance
burning sensation on a palate opened by spices. to try something new and interesting.”

120 FLAVOR & THE MENU Summer 2009


Artisanal’s cocktails feature 2 or 3 ounces

of beer as part of the ingredient mix, rather
than standard beer portions dosed with an
added ingredient or two. Some recipes are
familiar: the East Side Story is a sort of mojito
made with rum, lime, muddled mint and a
hefeweizen beer, while the Cabo San Lager is
a play on the Margarita, lightened with beer. Stay Ahead with Beer
Other drinks are more creative: La Fleur
By Maria Caranfa, director, Mintel Menu Insights
combines citrus vodka, elderflower liqueur,
lemon and hefeweizen. The Tennessee Peach
mixes Jack Daniels, peach schnapps, peach Research conducted by Mintel Menu Insights in May 2009 shows beer
puree, lemon and lime juices with a nut- leading the way in alcohol sales in retail, restaurant and bar settings.
brown ale. The sales power of artisan and craft brews continues to turn heads in
the industry, while sophisticated cocktails also make waves.
A GREATER PART OF THE MIX Combining beer and cocktail concepts to create new beer cocktails is
When Beaumont started creating beer a winning recipe for beverage programs in all segments and sizes.
cocktails at Beerbistro, he drew inspiration Examples from some innovative operations provide six blueprints for
from his travels in France, where good beer putting beer into a range of cocktail mixes:
bars routinely offered beer cocktails, such as 1. Add to Classics: New York City’s Joshua Tree restaurant
the Amer Biere, made with the bitter orange and bar adds a head of Guinness to its Black Russian, made
cordial Amer Picon and beer. He also with Finlandia vodka, Tia Maria and cola.
encountered elaborate concoctions like the
Biere Flambé, which called for brandy to be 2. Play Up Flavors: Back Forty in New York City plays up the
flamed in a glass, followed by a pour of beer sweet, herbaceous and earthy notes of Left Hand Brewery’s
that slowly raised the fire as the glass filled. Sawtooth Ale by mixing it with DH Krahn gin and lemon and
While flaming drinks are largely frowned serving it in a pilsner glass rimmed with local honey and salt.
upon in the United States, other mixers are 3. Make Local Heroes: Incorporate local and house-made
becoming more common. At the newly brews into locally inspired cocktails. Nacional 27, a Lettuce
opened Manhattan tequila bar, Mayahuel, Entertain You restaurant in Chicago, created the Chicagoan,
owner Phil Ward has assembled a cocktail list a blend of Irish whiskey sour, Chicago’s Goose Island 312
that includes both beer- and wine-based beer float and a sport pepper more commonly found on the
drinks. From its opening in April 2009, he’s Chicago hot dog.
offered tequila sangrias combining
strawberry-infused tequila with rosé wine and 4. Pick Fruit: Enhance the fruit flavors in beer with like-
elderflower; another version uses jalapeno- minded mixers. Casa Nueva of Athens, Ohio, makes a
infused tequila with vermouth, sugar cane Raspberry Wheat Mimosa by mixing Marietta Brewing Co.’s
and lime. Raspberry Wheat draft with chilled orange juice.
Ward also showcases classic cheladas, or
5. Run with the Popular Crowd: Find ways to add a splash
Mexican beers, with lime and salt, as well as
of beer to your best-selling drinks. Casual chain restaurant
Micheladas, Mexican beer with sangrita, the
Claim Jumper mixes its Fool’s Gold Margarita with traditional
traditional tequila accompaniment made
flavors of 1800 Silver Tequila, Cointreau, sweet-and-sour
from tomatoes, orange juice, lime juice,
mix and fresh lemon and lime juices, topped off with a splash
onions, salt and chiles. A new creation, El
of Claim Jumper hefeweizen, served on the rocks with a
Jimador’s Shifty, combines pineapple-infused
salted rim.
mescal, lime, sugar cane and dark Mexican
beer served with a spiced-salt rim. 6. Go All Day: In Chicago, Uncommon Ground’s Beermosa
In Seattle last spring, Jamie Boudreau, bar proves that beer has a place at breakfast or brunch. The
director for Tini Bigs and a spirit and cocktail combination of Bell’s Oberon wheat beer and orange juice is
consultant, introduced a new cocktail menu an easy morning mix; the juice picks up on the beer’s fruity,
with a section of wine-based drinks for spicy notes.
warmer weather. When developing recipes Summer 2009 FLAVOR & THE MENU 121


using wine, Boudreau looks for those with SIMMERED-DOWN FLAVORS

expressive fruit and low tannins — easy to Chefs have long employed wine reductions,
find in the fruit-forward world of modern and creative mixologists have borrowed the
winemaking. technique for drink applications, adding
“I think of the wines as vermouth, and in sweeteners, herbs, spices, salt or fruit before
trying to figure out how to use them, I reducing. Boudreau has done the same with
thought, ‘How does vermouth work in a beer. In one drink, he made a beer-based
drink?’” says Boudreau, who has worked with bitter amaro flavored with orange, which he
a winery to develop wine-based cocktails that added to a lager beer.
have appeared on numerous restaurant He also made a reduction from a Belgium
menus. “With a shiraz, I thought of what goes framboise lambic that he uses in cocktails in
with sweet vermouth; with a Sauvignon place of commercially made raspberry liqueur.
Blanc, I thought of dry vermouth.” With his own reductions, he’s able to control
Wine is the main ingredient in these the level of alcohol and sugar in a drink, key
drinks, and spirits are applied as an accent, to making balanced cocktails.
the way a cordial would be in a spirit-based Among the obvious rules to consider when
cocktail. Boudreau’s spring 2009 menu for introducing wine- or beer-based drinks to
Tini Bigs included Aude Man Thyme, customers:
made with chardonnay, gin, thyme and > Work with ingredients you already have.
peach puree. Start by researching classic recipes and
This newcomer joined a circa-19th century adjust according to your concept or
recipe for Wine Cobbler, made with Pineau des modern tastes.
Charentes (a fortified wine), peach puree and > Go slowly to gauge whether your customer
grapefruit bitters, on Tini Bigs’ menu. Another base is interested in the concept.
notable is the Incan Gold, made with > Always use the best fruit and juices, and
Sauvignon Blanc, pisco, pomegranate juice, experiment with various sweeteners.
lemon juice and peaches. > Look for good, but not rare or more-
Rathbun, whose book includes a section expensive ingredients when creating new
about drinks based on white, red, rosé, drink mixes.
sparkling and dessert wines, says wine-tails And remember to keep it new: Artisanal’s
work best when they are easily quaffable, light Nal plans to change his beer-cocktail menu
in alcohol, refreshing and fun. seasonally, adding perhaps watermelon and
“I’m always looking for something that mint to the mix as the weather warms.
offers a little more personality,” he says. “And “I think you always have to keep things
with so many wine drinkers today, wine lively, and people are more receptive to
cocktails are a way to get them interested and cocktails these days,” Boudreau says.
drag wine-only people over into cocktails.” Chefs don’t rest on the tried and true;
neither should mixologists. And, with the
competition in the restaurant business
ratcheted up by the current recession,
TAK E -AWAY T I P S adding new twists and anticipating
customers’ needs is absolutely essential,
HEAT CONTROL: Highly spiced foods are a great match whether in beers, wines or cocktails — or
for wine- and beer-based mixed drinks; their lower alcohol
content helps cool the palate rather than adding to the burn, all three. &
as hard liquors can do
EASY ENTRY: Cocktails incorporating sparkling wines are
an easy sell; the concept isn’t too “far out,” there’s a JACK ROBERTIELLO writes about
perception of elegance, and wine-drinkers will take the leap spirits, cocktails, wine, beer and food from
into the cocktail realm Brooklyn, N.Y.; he can be e-mailed at
PORTION CONTROL: Just a few ounces of beer is all that’s
needed as a supporting ingredient in a cocktail; take care not
to overdose with a standard beer portion

122 FLAVOR & THE MENU Summer 2009