The World's Greatest Beer-jito

The following all actually happened.

I was watching TV a few days ago when on came a commercial for the new Bud Light Lime Mojito. My first reaction was to groan, and to recall the cases of Coors Light Iced T that have been stacked near the checkout lines at my local supermarket for weeks; those also make me groan, anew, each time I must sidle by them to pay for my thrice-weekly pint of ice cream habit groceries.

But my second reaction to the mojito beer was, shockingly (shocking I say!), this: That sounds pretty good, actually.

I've tasted the various Miller Chills and other fruit-flavored swills that have hit the market in recent years. The problem is obviously not the citrus-lager pairing; we've all been thumbing lime wedges down our Corona longnecks since we were kids (unless we're Irish, in which case we've been mixing beer and lemonade) and it's still a flavor combo that hits the spot on a sweltering day. The problem is how it tastes when it's not an actual lime being used as a flavor agent; that artificialime nonsense is gag-worthy (that goes for you, too, Diet Coke Lime).

But you think about a mojito, it's just a little light sweetness (rum, spoonful of sugar) playing along with mint and lime. And then you think about a light beer -- it's as barely-there as Bacardi. I wanted to give it a shot.

And what I found is that it was so good (so good, I tell you!) that, more than any other cocktail that's passed my lips during my pregnancy (and yes, I've still got my one-sip rule in place) it was damn near torture to keep myself from sucking down the whole thing. Turns out that all along, a mojito's never realized how much it misses the hoppy-yeasty whateverness of a lager.

Of course, it does take a few extra f lairs to make a beer-jito the World's Greatest Beer-Jito. It needs a shot-ish of booze, because with beer alone as the source of alcohol, the drink is kickless. It could stand for a tall, handsome sort of glass just to dress/mature it up a bit. And it needs a lager more respectable than an actual Bud Light, because come on, what am I in high school? (I am not in high school.)

The World's Greatest Beer-jito

1 ounce Akvinta Vodka

5 ounces Red Stripe

2 lime wedges

6-8 mint leaves

Pinch of sugar

Lime wedge and/or mint sprig, to garnish

Muddle lime, mint and sugar in the bottom of a Collins glass. Fill glass with ice. Add vodka, then beer. Garnish.

Tasting Notes

Why I use vodka? Why I no use rum? The honest answer is, rum didn't even occur to me (didn't even occur, I say!) and Akvinta was on my mind because a bottle had recently been sent to me. (This my blogger's confession of things I get sent for free, is that sufficient, FCC?) I would slightly hesitate to suggest rum, obvs though it may be, because I wouldn't want to tip over from crisp into saccharine on the overall flavor profile. I also bet tequila rocks in this.

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The Blackbeard

Guest post by Sean Lorre, PhoBlograpHusband.

Hello Readers! It's been quite a while since I last guest posted. As a matter of fact exactly four months, or in other words one semester of grad school. To my dismay, my writing and research of late has more to do with the Blues Brothers, Randy Weston and Fred Astaire than bars and cocktails. OK, it's not such a bad gig, but I did miss the rigorous mixological testing required to write a post!

Today I bring you the Blackbeard, a cocktail I've only found in one bar, once, more than fifteen years ago. Picture it if you will: My 21-year-old self, along with a certain friend I will only identify by his initials (TMO) are whiling the Spring 1997 semester away in London as part of the Syracuse University International Live Abroad and Pretend to Study Program. Spring break comes and we're off to Edinburgh, Scotland to meet up with my friend Andy, a true Scotsman -- gregarious, burly (former national U-19 rugby player), and generous to a fault -- who I met while working as a camp counselor the year before.

After a long evening of carousing and paradin' about the city, Andy suggests that we drive out to his hometown of Musselburgh for a nightcap at his local pub. TMO and I have never passed up a free drink in our lives, so we consent to the 10km trek in search of the perfect end to the evening. And found it we did! It was on this night that I was introduced to the Blackbeard, perhaps the most perfect last drink I've ever had.

The Blackbeard

1 1/2 ounces Kraken Black Spiced Rum

5 ounces homemade cola

about 2 ounces Guinness Stout

Mix Kraken and cola in a Imperial half-pint glass (or whatever 10 ounce-ish glass you happen to have on hand), top with Guinness (from a tap if you can, if not the draft cans/bottles will do fine).

Tasting notes

The original Blackbeard calls for Captain Morgan, Coke and Guinness, but we just couldn't resist trying a few substitutions. We found the Kraken added a depth to the flavor that the Capt. couldn't muster (while keeping the pirate theme in place) and the homemade cola... well, that stuff makes everything better!

So just why is this fairly odd-sounding, Frankencocktail a great way to end a night of drinking? Why have I been bugging bartenders for years to recreate this for me? I've never really been able to really pick apart just what it is... I think perhaps it has just the right mix of creamy texture (from the Guinness), sweetness (from the Coke) and kick (from the rum) that has something to do with it. What I do know is, that when made right, the Blackbeard leaves you with a warm, content, time-to-take-the-last-train-home feeling.

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The Overtime

It's the end of Spring Break week. Which means it's time to take this Spring Break into Overtime!

The Overtime knows what time it is. It's Miller time! Or Corona time! Or time for whatever beer is still left in the ol' cooler. Time to double down on the chances of earning a bad reputation and a court summons -- except you won't, because as much as the concept of spiking beer with Jameson seems like a lawsuit waiting to happen, what's actually gonna happen is, you're gonna take a sip, and the Overtime's wickedly spicy bite is gonna cause you to pause and wonder, how is it possible this cocktail tastes so good?

The Overtime

About 3 or 4 ounces your leftover beer of choice (lagers, IPAs and Pilseners will do nicely -- and, of course, don't pick something too leftover, fresher is better)

1 ounce Jameson

1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice

1/2 ounce fresh lime juice

2 dashes Tabasco

Margarita salt, for the rim

Do up the rim of a highball glass with salt. Combine all liquid ingredients into ice-filled cocktail shaker, give it just a few shakes to chill, strain into salt-rimmed glass.

Tasting Notes:

For the record, I used the same Sam Adams Noble Pils for the Overtime as I did for the Shandygaff. Again, worked like a charm.

Only got one citrus on hand? Personally, I'd be very comfy doing one ounce of lime juice and eschewing the lemon.

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The World's Greatest Shandygaff

Folks, I couldn't care less that it's St. Patrick's Day -- and as you're all high-functioning alcoholics experienced drinkers like me, I know you feel the same way. It's amateur night out there, and we're all contentedly holed up in our respective abodes, our home bars pressed into service.

'Tis nothing wrong, of course, with tipping a glass towards the Irish in mature fashion. And as we're cocktailers first and foremost, the glass to tip is a Pilsner, in which you've crafted the World's Greatest Shandygaff.

For the longest time, I thought a Shandygaff (nickname: Shandy) was just beer and lemonade, or beer and Sprite, or beer and fizzy lemonade. But once I started doing my research, a whole world of Shandy possibilities opened up to me, so much so that I feel quite good about sharing this relatively intricate recipe under the auspices of a cocktail blog.

One caveat drinktor: If you fix yourself a Shandygaff, what you'll have in common with the green-puke spewers clogging the sidewalks tonight is that you won't notice how drunk you can get off a Shandygaff (or three) until it's too late. This Shandygaff is eminently quaffable, which is code for goes down way too easy. Erin Go *Burp*!

The World's Greatest Shandygaff

6 ounces Samuel Adams Noble Pils

6 ounces Fresh Ginger Ginger Ale by Bruce Cost

1 tablespoon Grand Marnier

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 dash Angostura Bitters

Begin with about 3 or 4 generically-sized ice cubes in a Pilsner glass. Pour into the glass, in sequential order, the Grand Marnier, the lemon juice, the beer and the ginger ale. Top with a dash of bitters. Give a quick stir if you like.

Tasting Notes:

I wouldn't say that the Noble Pils was my first choice of beer; it was just the best of what my neighborhood bodegas had to offer. Having said that, its medium body and especially its hoppiness (for a Pils) served me well. Having now said that, I must add that I'm dying to try making this drink with a black lager.

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The Samurai

In case you were wondering, I drink wine and beer, too. I drink wine because you've gotta drink something with dinner and because my husband likes buying Groupons for various wine delivery services which keeps us well stocked in vino. I drink beer because one thing liquor won't ever be is hoppy, and because I know a guy who works at Avery Brewing Company in Boulder, Colorado, who has hooked me up with some of the best beers of my life.

When I say I know a guy, I am talking about Andy Parker, one of my husband's best friends and a brewer at Avery. When I say hooked me up, I mean that when Sean and I are in Boulder (twice in the past year, very lucky us!) Andy basically gives us free rein to sample our way through Avery's tasting-room taps, plus the barrels in the back that haven't even been brought out yet. And when I say the best beers of my life, I'm specifically referencing a coffee-infused beer and a guava-infused beer that had my eyes rolling into the back of my head and that, to my recollection, never made it out of Avery's tasting room, as demand in that room alone outpaced the brewery's production.

Beer cocktails have become quite the thing lately, and Sean had been encouraging me for a while to try coming up with one. Gah. I wasn't sure how to do this. I just wasn't sure how to establish a sort of flavor-profile link, a note in common between hops and hooch. That was, I wasn't sure until Andy introduced us to Samael's Oak-Aged Ale. Oak! Now we speaky my language.

Simply introduce an oak-aged ale to an American whiskey (which is always aged in charred oak) and I'm in business. Pick a cocktail recipe I'm well-familiar with (the Manhattan, obvs) to use as my jumping-off point and I'm golden.

Samael's actually isn't very hoppy at all -- as the folks at Avery describe it on their site, it's "super-caramelly" -- so to play against that sweetness I picked a rye whiskey instead of a bourbon. (Yes, Maker's Mark is also widely considered quite "caramelly," but I felt that combining those two would either result in a way-too-sweet cocktail, or one that winds up tasting too one-dimensional, or both.)

If I make it to Boulder again this summer, I'll report back with a confiscated-guava-beer cocktail.

The Samurai

2 ounces Michter's U.S. 1 Single Barrel Straight Rye Whiskey

1 ounce Samael's Oak-Aged Ale

1/2 ounce Dubonnet

3 or 4 dashes Angostura Bitters

Combine all ingredients into an ice-filled shaker. Shake vigorously and strain into cocktail glass.

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