“I sure am glad I had this old bottle of Frangelico lying around,” is not a sentence I expected to be saying to myself this week. But when working on unusual cocktail assignments, sometimes those neglected dusty bottles can come in handy.
Tonight is Portland’s annual Rye Beer Fest, a celebration of rye beers taking place during PDX Beer Week, and this year the festival is extending into rye whiskeys as well. As part of that expanded focus, founder Kerry Finsand invited me to create a beer cocktail for the festival using George Dickel rye whiskey and the official beer of the fest, a collaboration with Back Pedal Brewing in the Pearl District.
The beer we came up with is Oatmeal Ryesin Cookie. Back Pedal’s idea was to create an ale made to “conjure up childhood memories of a fresh baked cookie.” The mash combines English malts, rye, and toasted oats, and it’s fermented with aromatic saison yeasts. The beer is cold conditioned on Flame raisins and an addition of Tongan and Madagascar vanilla beans. At 33 IBU and 7.8% abv, it’s a lightly hopped, smooth, malty ale.
Taking a growler pulled fresh from the conditioning tank, my main goal in making a beer cocktail with it was to keep highlighting those raisin cookie notes. That’s where the hazelnut liqueur Frangelico came in handy. After one try at a Flip that was actually pretty good, I decided an ale punch in the old English social tradition was the way to go. The maltiness of Back Pedal’s beer is perfect for this. (And it’s a lot less work for me than shaking Flips all night.)
I’ll be serving this Oatmeal Ryesin Punch tonight at the Rye Beer Fest from 7:00-9:00 pm at Eastburn in Portland, Oregon (where I’ll be selling signed copies of my beer cocktail book as well). Given the rarity of the beer, this is probably the only time the punch will be served. But for the sake of completeness, here’s a recipe that could be used as a template.
4 tablespoons sugar
peel of 1 lemon
4 oz water
1 1/2 oz lemon juice
6 oz George Dickel rye whiskey
2 oz Frangelico
16 oz Back Pedal Oatmeal Ryesin Cookie
cinnamon, for grating
Make an oleo-saccharum of the lemon peel and sugar in a punch bowl, muddling the peels to extract the oil. Add the water and lemon juice and stir until the sugar is fully dissolved. Pour in the remaining ingredients and grate fresh cinnamon over the surface of the punch. Slip a large ice block into the bowl, or ladle into individual glasses over large cubes.
Bonus footage: Here’s a clip of us making the punch live on KGW News in Portland, Oregon.