It’s a golden age for cocktails and whether they realize it or not, this is especially good news for beer fans. “Beers fall into the categories of being malt-dominated, hop-dominated, or yeast-dominated, and cocktails can emphasize similarly malty, bitter, and fruity or spicy flavors,” says Jeff Josenhans, director of banquets, restaurants and bars for The US Grant in San Diego. Not only does Josenhans, a Certified Cicerone, curate an impressive beer list for the hotel, but as an experienced mixologist he creates his own boozy beverages that appeal specifically to those who enjoy a good lager or ale. We asked him, and a couple of our other favorite brew-friendly bartenders, for the cocktails they’d recommend for beer lovers.
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R5 Whiskey Sour
There's no style more representative of American craft beer than the India pale ale. Charbay Distillery had this in mind when it decided to distill Bear Republic's Racer 5 IPA into a unique, beer-derived whiskey simply called R5. Jeff Josenhans combines the hop-forward spirit with fresh lemon juice, sugar, and a heavy dash of Aperol to make an incredible whiskey sour. The hop flavors and light, tart character of this bright, invigorating cocktail will especially appeal to fans of pale ales and other hoppy brews.
- 1.5 oz R5 Whiskey
- 1.5 oz fresh lemon juice
- .75 oz sugar
- Heavy dash of Aperol
- Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice.
- After shaking hard, strain onto ice cubes and enjoy.
Credit: Jeff Kauck / Getty Images
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The U.S. Grant Centennial Manhattan
Here's an easy one: Josenhans collaborated with High West Distillery in Park City, Utah, to produce a barrel-aged (and bottled) Manhattan. The base spirit is rye whiskey, made from the same spicy grain that flavors many of our favorite red IPAs. Meanwhile, the bitters in the cocktail echo the role of hops in such a beer. Best of all, the blend of two-thirds rye, one-third sweet vermouth, and old-fashioned bitters is aged for 100 days in full-size American oak barrels at the High West Distillery. "It's ideal for those beer drinkers who might enjoy an Imperial Red Ale," says Josenhans.
- Pour over a large ice cube and enjoy.
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Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø's Evil Twin Brewing produces a mean version of a sour German wheat ale style called a gose. "A tart, salty, refreshing beer with grapefruit-y notes," as Jarnit-Bjergsø describes it. Acquiring its light, citrusy sourness through inoculation with lactobacillus bacteria, Evil Twin's fantastic Mission Gose is mirrored incredibly well by a classic cocktail known as the Salty Dog, which is a Greyhound (one part gin, four parts grapefruit juice) with the notable addition of a salted glass. Beyond the obvious grapefruit connection, "the salt rim on the cocktail is the final aspect to make this the perfect match with the beer," says Jarnit-Bjergsø.
- 5 oz grapefruit juice
- 1.5 oz gin (or vodka, if preferred)
- ¼ tsp salt
- Combine gin and grapefruit juice in a shaker filled with ice.
- After shaking, strain into a salt-rimmed highball glass.
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Jeff Josenhans also created a variation on the classic Aperol Spritz (Prosecco, Aperol, and soda) that pays homage to crisp, dry German lagers. He reveals that this cocktail served at the U.S. Grant can be re-created at home by first making a hop-infused simple syrup: "Simply blend a handful of hop pellets with 16 oz of water and 16 oz of sugar, and let it rest in the fridge for a few hours," he instructs. "Then shake it all up and strain it through a coffee filter." From there, combine this syrup with American white whiskey and Yellow Chartreuse for herbal aromatics. Hops, while not a grocery staple, can be ordered online from homebrew stores (try an ounce of Centennial).
- 1 oz hop-infused simple syrup
- 1 oz American white whiskey
- .5 oz yellow chartreuse
- 3 oz soda water
- Combine whiskey, yellow chartreuse, and simple syrup in a shaker with ice.
- After shaking hard, strain over ice cubes.
- Top with soda water.
Credit: Marzia Giacobbe / Alamy
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Strong, hazy Belgian saisons hold spicy, peppery, and floral aromas due to the unique yeast strains used in the brew. "This beer style can be closely mimicked in a cocktail simply by finding ingredients that follow your typical aromatic beer style profiles," says Josenhans, who uses citrus to mirror the lemon of a saison, and a simple syrup derived from coriander and clove to mirror its phenolic compounds. Despite the Cognac and Viognier blend, it might be as close to beer as cocktails get. For the simple syrup, heat 16 oz of sugar in 16 oz of water. Once dissokved, remove from heat and add two tablespoons of whole cloves, and then three tablespoons of crushed whole coriander seed. Let it sit for at least four hours and strain through a coffee filter.
- 1 oz Cognac
- 4 oz Viognier wine (substitute a dry, floral white wine)
- 1 oz fresh lemon
- 1 oz fresh orange
- 1 oz coriander-clove simple syrup
- Absinthe (for rinse)
- Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice.
- After shaking, strain into an Absinthe-rinsed Belgian ale glass.
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For hardcore porter and stout fans looking for a fuller-bodied cocktail, Pam Wiznitzer, creative director at Seamstress NY, suggests the Rum Flip. "This decadent cocktail requires a whole egg to create the rich, velvety texture that is reminiscent of the creamy mouthfeel of dark beers," Wiznitzer says. In the 1700s, the recipe actually called for beer, but modern versions incorporate only egg, sugar, and sometimes cream. And conveniently, the rum can easily be replaced with whiskey, "or even sherry, if you want to keep it low proof," says Wiznitzer.
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 2 oz golden (or aged) rum
- Whole nutmeg
- Combine egg, sugar, and rum in a shaker with ice.
- After shaking hard, strain into a chilled glass.
- Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.