I Tried It: Beer Cocktails Part Three, Whiskey Business

In the final installment of my beer cocktail I Tried It series, I came up with three original beer cocktail recipes. You may recall that I've been building up to this moment in that I first tried beer cocktails at various places and then created some of my own cocktails using recipes. This time the training wheels were off and I mixed some beer with some liquor and other accouterments and made...drinks...that were...swallowable (for the most part). 

Beer Cocktail #7: Spruced Up Ginger

Beer: Pennsylvania Tuxedo from Dogfish Head

How to Make It: Roughly 1 ounce of ginger-infused vinegar for every 6 ounces of beer

The Verdict: I love vinegar and this Ginger Shrub vinegar from pink House Alchemy is amazing. Like, seriously delicious in its own right. I'm also a fan of the evergreen flavors spruce tips and juniper can add to beer. I found that Pennsylvania Tuxedo approximated that evergreen flavor I enjoy in Sahti-style beers (one of my favorite styles) as well as gin.

In deciding what beer to pair with the ginger vinegar, I first thought of something light since so many ginger beers are light and refreshing. However, one of the things I also like about ginger beers (although I'm not generally a fan of ginger in beers) is the fresh and almost bracing flavor of it, which is also what I like about beers with evergreen flavors. 

The star of this cocktail was the vinegar, but the beer played a strong supporting role. The end result was a cocktail that was almost spicy but was still light, pleasant, and bright. Oftentimes, I find that IPAs seem to coat my teeth and mouth with an almost sticky bitterness. While both the ginger and spruce tip flavor was strong, neither flavor was overpowering and the overall effect was to leave my palate scrubbed and revitalized. I would definitely make this cocktail again.

Beer Cocktail #8: Fernet-a-Porter

Beer: Pluff Mud Porter by Holy City

How to Make It: Porter, Fernet Branca, orange bitters, smoked grapefruit simple syrup

The Verdict: Fernet is my favorite liquor, hands down. I love the smoky, sexy, leathery, so so dry flavor. I even created a homebrew porter recipe featuring Fernet and cedar wood to capture the feeling of the Pullman Car Company and named it, fittingly, the Pullman Porter.

With this recipe, I set about to create a cocktail version of my homebrew recipe, but with more of a citrus twist to help cut some of the tannin-like dryness and tobacco flavors from mixing the Fernet with the porter. I had some leftover simple syrup from when I candied grapefruit in bourbon barrel smoked sugar that I knew would provide the bridge to introducing the citrus flavor while still adding some smoky sweetness. I also threw in a few drops of orange bitters to bring a little more citrus character to the cocktail.

If you don't like Fernet, you probably wouldn't like this cocktail. Fernet is sort of like Jeppson's Malort in that is very herbal and earthy and not what everyone thinks of when thinking of liquor. I loved this cocktail because it turned out to be a great mixture of all the things I love about Fernet and porter, but with some sweetness from the citrus to balance the roasty, smoky, and tobacco qualities of the Fernet and the porter. Mmmm, writing about this cocktail makes me want to go make another one.

Also, if you've never had Fernet, you need to track some down. 

Beer Cocktail #9: Hamster Huey & the Gooey Drambuie

Beer: Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale from Founders Brewing

How to Make It: Drambuie, scotch ale, and caramel vodka

The Verdict: I backed into this beer recipe, I'll admit it. I love Calvin and Hobbes and, one day during a particularly boring day at work, I was thinking about Hamster Huey & the Gooey Kablooie being Calvin's favorite book to read, much to the consternation of his father. Then I thought it would be hilarious to create a cocktail called Hamster Huey & the Gooey Drambuie. Then I had to look up exactly what Drambuie was. In the end, I reversed engineered my way into this drink.

The Drambuie part of the name was obviously taken care of by the addition of Drambuie. Since Drambuie is a Scotch whiskey with spices, herbs, and heather honey, I wanted to try mixing it with a Scotch ale. Although Dirty Bastard doesn't have the same kind of spice and herb additions that Drambuie has, I thought they would have similar enough base flavors to complement each other. 

On my first attempt at mixing the cocktail, I ended up with a 1:3 ratio of Drambuie and Scotch ale. Woof. That was way too much booze and not a great mixture. After drinking it down a little (hey, I had experimenting to do and had no time to waste!), I added a little more beer and also threw in a shot of caramel vodka to bring more of a "gooey" flavor to the Gooey Drambuie. Once I increased the amount of Scotch ale and added the caramel vodka shot, it turned out to be a really nice, warming cocktail. I had spent the previous hour or so outside in the brisk fall (finally) weather, so it was the perfect drink to warm me up. I prefer drier, more herbal drinks over sweet drinks, so I probably wouldn't make this one very often, unlike the other two cocktails I mixed up.

Overall, I'm not a natural born mixologist. However, it was a good exercise to think about the best way to pair the beers, liquors, and puns that I enjoy into cohesive products. One day I may revisit formulating beer cocktails as I expand my palate. I probably should, so this stab at creating beer cocktails isn't the only entry in my beer cocktail-formulating legacy.