So I had just gotten into this craft beer thing. Not obsessively, but enough to tell the difference between a tart saison and a Berliner weisse. Enough to snort dismissively when someone at the table ordered a Michelob Ultra Fruit Lime Cactus.
But then they started putting booze in beer. And all bets were off.
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Beer cocktails are appearing all around town, so much so that calling their prominence a trend would be an insult to the bartenders who have been pouring them for years. Once fine microbrews started to hit bar fridges alongside meticulously crafted spirits, it didn't take a Rhodes scholar to figure out they might taste good together.
And as much as our Founding Fathers enjoyed a nice flagon of ale, they too adulterated their beer. Colonial-era recipes list drinks like the Flip, a mix of rum, brandy and beer with three cracked eggs. After the ingredients are well-beaten, the barkeep takes a red-hot poker from the fireplace and plunges it into the drink. (Remind your bartender of that the next time he rolls his eyes when asked for a twist of lemon.)
There are plenty of respectable beer cocktails around town, including a handsome variation of the Tom Collins at the Corner House using Upslope IPA and Downslope Ould Tom gin, and the Wynkoop Brewing Co. offers a smattering of drinks made with Wynkoop brew. But I was looking for a historic pairing of beer and booze, and Euclid Hall, well-known for both, fit the bill.
Looking at the selection of beer cocktails, it's understandable how some people are nervous about diluting beer. Most of the best beer cocktails need fruit flavors and sweetness to balance with the bitterness of a hoppy beer. None of the three beer drinks on Euclid Hall's menu struck me as particularly manly compared to a bomber of some obscure stout that was aged for a decade in a monk's armpit, or whatever the kids are into.
But the Fresh Prince ($12) did catch my eye, with its combination of pear brandy from Palisade-based distillery Peach Street Distillers, Hangar One Mandarin Blossom vodka, and lemon, tied together with a peppery Stone IPA. It comes in a tulip glass perfect for swirling like a particularly eccentric Bond villain.
The effect is quite pleasant: citrus and sweetness flattering the complexities of the beer, playing the Geoffrey to its Uncle Phil, if you will. The creator of the cocktail, Euclid Hall bartender Max Schouweiler, was even kind enough to let us share his Fresh Prince recipe. Keep reading for that recipe.
The Fresh Prince
Ingredients: .75 oz. Jack & Jenny Pear Brandy 1 oz. Hangar One Mandarin Blossom vodka .5 oz. Lemon juice 3 oz. Stone IPA
Squeeze the lemon. Really put your back into it this time. Combine ingredients, pouring the beer last, into a tulip glass. Serve. Go bug Aunt Viv. Yo homes, smell ya later!
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With every installment of Coming of Age with 21 Drinks, I'll be featuring a cocktail recipe cooked up by me or the bar itself. Have a suggestion for a place I should visit? Post it below.