Tuesday, July 12, 2011

MxMo LIX: Beer! - Bruges Sling & Beer O'Clock

Fast on the heels of last's month's event (at least if you go by the pace of my recent blog posts), it's time for July's Mixology Monday, and this month Frederic from Cocktail Virgin Slut has chosen a theme near and dear to my heart. The topic? Beer cocktails! I'll let Frederic explain in his own words:
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...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.
UPDATE: Frederic has the round up post up over at his site, go check out all the drinks.

Hmm, beer cocktails...this should be fun. Do also note his excellent mod of the MxMo logo above. Nicely done Frederic. Not coincidentally, last Thursday's TDN theme was beer, just to provide us with a little playground to tinker with ideas. Before I continue, I should mention last October's first annual Brewer’s Bash, the finale event of NY Craft Beer Week, held at Eleven Madison Park, where I probably had my favorite (and most numerous) beer cocktails to date. I truly hope there will be a second annual event, as if so I will surely attend.
But for MxMo, I like to concoct original drinks, and first I set my mind to incorporating a Belgian lambic into a cocktail. There were many ways to run with this idea, but my mind fixated on using a Kriek to supply both cherry flavor and carbonation to a drink, in addition to bringing the beer's tart and floral qualities to the party. I thought the Kriek might make an interesting sub for Cherry Heering and Soda.
Without endeavoring to enter the debate about which is the real, original, or proper recipe, I decided that some variation of the Singapore Sling or Straits Sling might fit the bill. (If you are interested in exploring the debate, you might also look here, here, here, or here.) So here's what I came up with:
Bruges Sling
  • 2½ oz Lindemans Kriek Lambic
  • 2 oz Bulldog London Dry Gin
  • ½ oz Bénédictine
  • ¼ oz Grand Marnier
  • 1 oz lemon
  • 2 dashes Regan's Orange Bitters No. 6
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Shake & strain all but beer, strain over ice, & top with Kriek. Garnish with pineapple sage & pineapple mint & lemon wedge.
For what it's worth, I based mine mostly on the Drinkboy Straights Sling, with a nod (Grand Marnier) and a glance (pineapple herb garnishes) toward the Singapore Sling.
I have to say, I found it pretty damn refreshing. Although it would veer further from its resemblance to its namesake, I foresee trying it out with a Pêche or other lambic in the near future.
Although I love the Bruges Sling, using a lambic felt a little too easy, almost like cheating. So I decided to try my hand at a second beer cocktail. To this end, I grabbed the hoppiest beer I had and concentrated it into a syrup, adding a touch of sugar to tame the bitterness. I went with a recent impulse buy, the Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA:
IPA Syrup
  • 10 oz IPA (why only 10? you gotta have a swig for yourself 1st)
  • ¼ cup sugar
reduce over low heat while stirring occasionally until down to 4 oz liquid. reserve in fridge.
I was totally winging it on this one, but it turned out to be quite lovely. In a way, it is kind of like the reverse of fermenting beer from malt extract, boiling off the alcohol and adding back the sugar that the yeast had turned into alcohol during fermentation. However, the key difference between this syrup and a malt extract ingredient to produce beer is that the syrup also contains the concentrated flavors and aromas that the (prodigiously) hopped beer captured during the brewing process.
Now, what to do with my bitter concoction? It's got to be Brown, Bittered, and Stirred; however I don't want the spirit to have too much going on to steal the spotlight. In fact, I'd like it to complement the syrup, so I chose to reach for an Aged Genever, whose malt flavors will echo the malt from the reduced beer. We also have bitterness inherent in the syrup, so we don't need something too bitter to tie things together, but some brightness might help. And what the hell, why not a bit more hops? Let's use Bittermens Hopped Grapefruit Bitters. I give you the Beer o'clock:
Beer o'clock
Stir and strain into chilled DOF; garnish with hop tendril nasturtium blossom to its boozy grave
What,you don't have hops growing in your backyard? Fine, just use nasturtium. Nope? Ok, a twist or something then. I would have used an actual hop cone, but they won't appear until later in the season. But it's really about the liquid gold in the glass. The aroma is distinctively that of beer, except perhaps more so, if that is possible given that it is lacking the carbonation to help deliver the smell. (Note to self: carbonating this would be a stroke of genius.) The taste? Also of beer, but concentrated. It is a contemplative drink that takes a while to wrap your head around the juxtaposition, but it provides an enjoyable journey.
 I'll leave you with some pics from my friend's hop harvest last year, which we used to brew some fine beer of our own:

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