I Don't Want to Be a Pirate, at Euclid Hall Bar & Kitchen
It’s no surprise that beer cocktails make up a fair chunk of the drink menu at Euclid Hall, known for its extensive and eclectic beer program. The bar staff collaborates on drink recipes, contributing seasonally inspired combinations of beer and spirits. But naming the cocktails, apparently, is the hardest part. “It’s always one of the more difficult things.” says bar manager Chris Sage. “Coming up with new cocktails comes easily and natural for us, but naming them is always hard. If we’re doing justice to Euclid Hall, we’re keeping with our fun, laid-back, brash attitudes.”
“Everyone who works behind the bar is a huge fan of Seinfeld,” continues Sage, “so we tried to find obscure Seinfeld references that true fans would recognize.” His latest beer cocktail, called I Don't Want to Be a Pirate ($10), refers one of his favorite episodes — and an old British military drink. Although Sage and his team decided to name all their new drinks based on the show, which ran from 1989 to 1998, the origin of this cocktail goes back much farther.
“I took the idea for the cocktail from the old Navy grog,” Sage explains, referring to the daily custom of rationing out a portion of rum to sailors. Since it was quite strong, the rum was diluted with water. Lemon or lime juice was added for taste, with the citric acid eventually being found to prevent scurvy. Sage’s cocktail contains not only the rum and lemon, but also a mint-peach syrup, bitters, wheat beer and ginger beer.
Sage chose Sailor Jerry, a spiced rum made in the US Virgin Islands to the historically accurate 92 proof. The higher proof allows it to stand up to being diluted by other ingredients in a cocktail. “The hints of cherry, vanilla and other spices help tie it together with the wheat beer, the ginger beer and the bitters,” Sage says. Other flavors include cinnamon and nutmeg, used by sailors long ago to flavor their standard daily rum ration.
Sage adds a bit of fresh-squeezed lemon juice, but also a syrup that he makes by infusing peach puree with fresh mint. “I wanted to use something that was refreshing and that would ‘pop’ for spring,” he says.” He heats the puree and mint for about ten minutes to let the flavors mingle, then strains the mixture, allowing it to cool before he uses it.
After combining the rum, lemon juice and syrup, he adds a few dashes of Angostura bitters, then shakes it all over ice and strains everything into a glass. The drink is topped with ginger beer and a splash of a fruity wheat beer from Butcherknife Brewing, based in Steamboat Springs. The Bavarian-style hefeweizen lends flavors of banana and other tropical fruit — a perfect beer to finish a rum-based drink.
“I think it’s a very refreshing cocktail,” Sage says. “It’s something that’s easy to drink out on the patio.” It’s also a drink that he finds pairs well with another of Euclid Hall’s specialties: sausage. “There’s enough lightness and acidity in the cocktail to cut through the fattiness of any of our sausages.” Sage particularly recommends Euclid’s pumpkin-seed chorizo ($4.50), noting that the spiciness and earthiness of the sausage pair well with the crispness of the lemon, ginger and bitters in his cocktail.
“It’s been positive,” he says of the public’s reception to his beer-and-rum recipe. “It’s a way to introduce beer cocktails to people. It’s very smooth, very pleasing to the palate, and people order one after the other.”
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Sage likes to use ingredients in unexpected combinations, always focusing on the base spirit. “I want to make sure that the spirit is always the showcase,” he explains, “whether it’s a two-ingredient cocktail or a six-ingredient cocktail — I always want to make sure that we’re featuring that spirit first and featuring that flavor.”
Sage laughs when asked about the Seinfeld reference. It’s an episode, he says, in which Jerry is persuaded to appear on a television show wearing a billowy white shirt that resembles a woman’s blouse — or a seventeenth-century pirate’s shirt. Sage made the connection between pirates and rum drinks, and it fit perfectly within the Seinfeld-theme of Euclid Hall’s new cocktail menu.
“It’s very approachable,” he says. “There are a lot of different flavors, but nothing overtakes anything else. You get some earthiness from the spices as well as some freshness from the mint and fruit, some acid from the lemon juice.”