Mixology Monday: Beer!

coconut

I’d be stupid not to take part in this month’s Mixology Monday hosted by Cocktail Virgin:

This month the chosen theme will be beer cocktails.

While beer being used as an ingredient in modern cocktails has gotten a lot of press as of late, this is not a new trend. Beer has played a historical role in mixed drinks for centuries. For example, it can be found in Colonial drinks like the Rumfustian, Porter Sangaree, and Ale Flip. While many of these drinks are not seen in modern bars save for craft cocktail establishments, other beer drinks are though, including the Boilermaker, Black Velvet, and Michelada. And present day mixologists are utilizing beer with great success including Kelly Slagle’s Port of Funchal, Jacob Grier’s Averna Stout Flip, and Emma Hollander’s Word to Your Mom. Bartenders are drawn to beer for a variety of reasons including the glorious malt and roast notes from the grain, the bitter and sometimes floral elements from the hops, the interesting sour or fruity notes from the yeast, and the crispness and bubbles from the carbonation. Beer is not just for pint glasses, so let us honor beer of all styles as a drink ingredient.

Coincidentally, July is Oregon Craft Beer Month and we’re coming up on the one year anniversary of the first Brewing Up Cocktails event put on by me, Yetta Vorobik, and Ezra Johnson-Greenough. In the time since we’ve been experimenting with themed beer cocktail events, whether that be creating a menu around a specific brewery (Ninkasi, Oakshire, and Hopworks) or a type of drink (nothing but flips!). For our anniversary party we’ll be serving beer cocktails with a loosely interpreted tiki theme. Details are coming soon, but in the meantime here’s a preview of one of the new (and thus far unnamed) drinks:

2 oz Maui Brewing Coconut Porter
1 1/2 oz English Harbour rum
1 1/2 oz coconut milk
1/2 oz Galliano Ristretto
1/2 oz allspice or pimento dram
Angostura bitters mist, for garnish

Shake the first five ingredients, strain into a rocks or wine glass, and garnish with the Angostura mist.

This is a weird drink. The idea of mixing coconut porter and coconut milk was Ezra’s, and I was skeptical at first. However this comes together really nicely and has a rich flip-like consistency. The pimento dram adds big spice flavors, the Galliano Ristretto espresso liqueur adds depth and sweetness, and the coconut milk puts this in the running for the most unhealthy cocktail we’ve come up with yet.

Stay tuned for more info about the Brewing Up Cocktails anniversary event on Saturday, July 30, at The Hop and Vine.

Mane to tail drinking with pimento dram

bitter_truth

When Haus Alpenz brought St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram into the US market a few years ago, it immediately became one of my favorite staples behind the bar. Allspice dram is one of those forgotten liqueurs that shows up in some vintage cocktail recipes and then largely disappeared. The spirit is made by infusing allspice (or “pimiento”) berries into Jamaican rum and then sweetening the mixture. It’s delicious and powerfully aromatic stuff, packed with winter spice notes like cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. Haus Alpenz wisely chose the more descriptive and appetizing “allspice dram” over the traditional “pimento dram,” the latter of which calls to mind those red things stuffed into bar cheap olives.

Now there’s a second allspice liqueur on the market. The Bitter Truth from Germany is using the classic name Pimento Dram for their offering. I received a sample a few weeks ago and I love it. It’s very rich and complex, with everything you’d want from an allspice liqueur. In price and proof it’s closely matched to the St. Elizabeth. I don’t have a strong preference between the two and am happy to recommend both of them.

This isn’t a spirit you’re likely to drink straight. It’s made for cocktails, so here are two to try. The first is the Lion’s Tail, brought back to prominence by cocktail historian Ted Haigh. It originally appeared in the Cafe Royal Cocktail Book, but I like Ted’s contemporary version from Imbibe magazine. This is a fantastic winter drink:

2 oz bourbon
1/2 oz allspice (or pimento!) dram
1/2 oz lime juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Looking for a summery version of this drink, I came up with a variation called the Lion’s Mane using Novo Fogo’s Gold Cachaca, which is aged in oak for two years:

2 oz Novo Fogo Gold Cachaca
1/2 oz lapsang souchong syrup
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/4 oz pimento dram
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

Shake, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with a lemon twist. To make the syrup, brew lapsang souchong tea and combine it with an equal volume of sugar.

I also use pimento dram to make “spiced bitters,” an equal parts mix of the liqueur and Angostura bitters, that I keep in a dasher bottle at the bar. At Metrovino we pour through a lot of it making Lazy Bear cocktails. I haven’t tried Bitter Truth’s product this way, but I’m sure it would do well.