Archive for the ‘Beer’ Category

Do not fear the liquor and beer

Monday, June 25th, 2012
Beer before liquor, never sicker
Liquor before beer, never fear…

So they say, but what happens when the beer is mixed with the liquor?!  My report: so far, so good.

My flirtation with beer in cocktails has been picking up speed. It started with the humble shandy and has progressed to other interesting concoctions. I have a feeling I will be reporting on more of these “aletails” this summer, starting with the “One Sunset.”

The “One Sunset” was featured on Imbibe Magazine online after appearing in the new book Beer Cocktails by Howard and Ashley Stelzer. After sampling the “One Sunset,” this book is now on top of my wish list.

One Sunset

6 red grapes
10 fresh mint leaves
2 oz vodka
¾ oz Aperol
¾ oz simple syrup
½ oz fresh lemon juice
1 ½ oz amber lager (I used Full Sail’s LTD #05)
grapes and mint to garnish (optional)

In a mixing glass, gently muddle grapes and mint leaves. Add ice and remaining ingredients (except the beer). Stir until well chilled and strain into a Collins glass. Top with beer and garnish.

This aletail has a touch of bitter from the Aperol and the lager, but tastes light and refreshing. Since I had the open bottle of lager, I tried subsequent variations that reduced and then omitted the vodka (sometimes substituting plain club soda). I didn’t miss the vodka in taste, and leaving it out creates a lighter-alcohol drink that can be enjoyably sipped all of a summer afternoon without serious consequences. 

Better yet for continuous sipping, I scaled and tweaked the recipe to create a pitcher drink:

One Sunset Pitcher

48 red grapes
30 mint leaves
8 oz vodka
6 oz Aperol
6 oz simple syrup
4 oz lemon juice
8 oz club soda
1 bottle amber lager

Muddle grapes and strain. Muddle mint leaves and grape juice, then add vodka, Aperol, lemon juice and simple syrup. Mix together and chill for at least one hour. Add beer and club soda just before serving. Stir gently and pour over ice to serve. Makes 8 servings. 

 Cheers, ICE

 As always, check out my Glossary of Spirits page for alcohol and mixer definitions and details.


From cocktails to dessert, this chocolate goes with everything

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Chocolate eggs, bunnies, and Girl Scout cookies are hard to escape this season. I have never claimed the chocoholic label, but that may change now that I’ve discovered a new variety: chocolate stout reduction.  I’m like a fairy sprinkling chocolate stout reduction around instead of magic dust; it may be brown and sticky but it is enchanting all the same. It rocks in cocktails, milk, ice cream…hell, I’m ready to make it a fondue for fruit and cheese, too.  Or, wait, what about on pancakes?!

My first taste of such a reduction was at Lot No. 3 in Bellevue. They offer a selection of “classics with a twist,” and made me a Rocketeer (based on the Twentieth Century Cocktail) that subbed chocolate stout reduction for the crème de cacao liqueur. Their version was so much better than the classic because the reduction is less sweet and has a more complex chocolate flavor. I was hooked and intent on recreating it at home.

The stout doesn't reduce this much, I just wanted to create a thicker topping for ice cream.

It took using some baking recipes for direction and a lot of simmering, but I finally settled on the following delicious recipe:

Chocolate Stout Reduction

1 bottle (24 oz) of chocolate stout (so far Southern Tier’s Imperial Choklat is my favorite)
7 oz turbinado sugar
1/8 t of salt

Combine all in a large sauce pan. Bring to boil until the sugar is dissolved, and then simmer on medium while stirring occasionally and watching carefully – it can quickly bubble up and over if left unwatched. As it reduces, the bubbles become thicker and glossy, like bubbling syrup. Simmer 15-20 minutes until the liquid is reduced by half (for drinks, but reduce more for a thicker topping) and remove from heat. Cool, bottle and refrigerate.  Hint: if you discover upon cooling that you have over-reduced, simply add a bit of water and gently heat until mixed to your desired consistency.

The end result is rich and chocolate-y, with a slight bitterness.  It is scrumptious on caramel ice cream (note to self to stock up at Molly Moon’s) with a bit of sea salt; it makes the perfect adult chocolate milk (4:1 ratio); and, of course, it is fabulous in cocktails! Try these to start:

Chocolate Julep

Crushed ice
1 ½ oz bourbon
½ oz chocolate stout reduction
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

Pour bourbon, reduction and bitters over crushed ice in a low glass and stir vigorously to chill. Or, try spiced rum instead of bourbon for a tasty variation that strangely tastes of Kahlua liqueur.

This “julep” is so easy and tasty that I haven’t ventured away much. But, the tiki Scootini Sling from Portland and classic Twentieth Century Cocktail are also good vehicles for the chocolate stout reduction in place of crème de cacao*.

Scootiki Sling, revised

2 oz spiced rum
½ oz orgeat (B.G. Reynolds brand preferably)
½ oz chocolate stout reduction
¼ oz cherry heering
½ oz lemon juice

Shake with ice and serve over crushed ice.


Twentieth Century Cocktail, revised

1 ½ oz gin
½ oz chocolate stout reduction
¾ oz Lillet Blanc
¼ oz lemon juice

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Note: I scaled back on the lemon juice from the original recipe to create a better balance; and confirmed at home that this really is improved by subbing out the crème de cacao.

Cheers, ICE 

*A caveat:  if a recipe calls for white crème de cacao and drink color is important, do not use the reduction as it darkens the drink dramatically.

As always, check out my Glossary of Spirits page for alcohol and mixer definitions and details.


Don’t Mean a Thang If It Ain’t Got That Twang

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

We were recently in Chinook, Montana, to celebrate Red’s grandparents’ 70th Anniversary – wow! The long weekend was busy with activities and getting reacquainted with their kids, kids’ kids and kids’ kids’ kids, about 80 people in all.

One such activity was a hayride into the prairie, but we had to get there first. The kids and some adults piled onto the chartered, un-air-conditioned school bus while some of us opted to follow in a few cars. This was a good decision, because the school bus overheated on a quiet Montana road and we ALL ended up crammed into the cars, with kids perched on coolers in the way back, teenagers crammed between seats and adults…well, we were happy that there was cold beer in said coolers.  

I had bought the town out of Corona my first night there (there were only two cases to be had among all that Bud Light and Miller), and a few of those were stashed in the back. But Coronas just aren’t the same without a lime wedge. Unless you have lime salt on hand. And who just happened to have some Twang Lime Beer Salt in her backpack? Well, I was a Girl Scout once upon a time and it’s not just the boys who come prepared.

Twang Lime Beer Salt is simply crystallized lime and salt. Given a few shakes into a beer, it imparts that nice lime flavor and makes your beer fizz. It is my go-to when I’m out of limes or when slicing a lime is impractical (like in a hotel room or when camping – not that I do that – or on a plane). And now, I’ve learned, on long stretches of Montana road.

Cheers, ICE

PS, I got my Twang at a Metropolitan Market but I’m not sure if they are restocking it. I just ordered more from the company.

 As always, check out my Glossary of Spirits page for alcohol and mixer definitions and details.


A Shandy is Dandy on a Hot Summer Day

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

I’m getting whiplash from the Seattle-area weather this summer, as we jump from cool and crummy to hot and sunny within days or hours. Now it’s HOT and replenishing fluids is essential. What to drink?

I could say that I’ve been avoiding the cocktail shaker because I don’t want to exert myself in our non-air-conditioned house. The truth is that I’m just lazy, and lazy days call for The Shandy. Here’s the recipe (don’t work too hard popping the caps off):

Take a bottle of pale ale
Mix it with a bottle of ginger ale
Add ice and stir gently. 

I am currently using Kona Longboard Lager, similar to a very pale ale, and Hansen’s Sugar-Free Ginger Ale. Other combinations work when neither the beer nor ginger ale dominates the taste.

Don’t judge: this drink is far better than it sounds. It is my preferred summer beverage for several reasons…

  1. Any other drink in this quantity would get me streaking-through-the-neighborhood drunk.
  2. It’s low in calories for the quantity.
  3. It’s easy to transport in a cooler and mix poolside.
  4. Full bottles of beer and ginger ale together with ice fit perfectly in a 32 oz Big Gulp cup.

Try it and you can be klassy like me.

My big gulp of Shandy

Cheers, ICE