Nothing wrong with a beer and a chaser, but what if you just save yourself some trouble and mix em up? JK offers some of his favorite beer cocktails — hybrid drinks that alternate sips of smooth spirits and cold, crisp beer.

It’s summer and it’s time for vacation, and in the spirit of the season, I’ve decided to take a vacation from reviewing & recommending beers for my neighbors & friends.  There is no reason to fret dear loyal readers, for in the place of my witty, banter-filled reviews I bring you a column filled with delicious beer-cocktail recipes perfect for enjoying the warm summer season.

People may scoff at the new popularity of incorporating beer into cocktails, however beer drinks such as the Purl, made with bitter herbs and beer, was one of ancestors of the cocktail!  The beer cocktail has a long history in the United States, even being used as a smoothing agent in alcoholic punches that some of our founding fathers’ surely imbibed…..I’m looking at you Mifflin!  So here are some of my personal favorites for upgrading that summer kegger to a classy beer-cocktail filled soiree.

JK’s Michelada

Anyone who knows me, knows I have a deep affection for the ultimate hangover cure and vitamin filled liquor-based libation known as the Bloody Mary!  (*Stop by Billy Murphy’s and sample my classic spicy Bloody Mary recipe for only $5 during the Saturday & Sunday Brunch 10AM-2PM (click for menu).)

The Michelada is the Bloody Mary’s beer based sibling and is just as delightful, adding a little bit of carbonation to settle that upset hungover stomach, and some spice to awaken the senses dulled by alcoholic misadventures of the previous evening. The Michelada, like the Bloody Mary, is complementary to breakfast fare such as, omelettes and huevos rancheros, but this awesome beer cocktail also pairs amazingly alongside crabs, steamed clams, or grilled seafood later in the day, making it an excellent companion in the summer months.

 Ingredients

  • Lime wedge (for glass)
  • 1 tablespoon of Tajin Seasoning (Chili Lime Seasoning) or Kosher salt (for rim)
  • 1-ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1-ounce Clamato juice or tomato juice
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) Tapatio or other Mexican-style hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) of soy sauce
  • 1 (12-ounce) can of Tecate or light Mexican lager

Preparation

Rub the rim of a pint glass with lime wedge and dip in Tajin or salt; fill glass with ice. Add lime juice, Clamato/tomato juice, Worcestershire, & soy sauce; season with hot sauce. Top off with cold Mexican lager and stir to combine.  Garnish with wedge of lime*.

*This also works great garnished with a pickled jalapeno, jumbo shrimp, bacon, or even beef jerky.

Beer’s Knees

Summer is great time for fresh, locally sourced honey, just stop on down to the East Falls Farmer’s Market beneath the Twin Bridges any Saturday and pick up some and you’ll be partially on your way to enjoying my next beer cocktail the Beer’s Knees.

This refreshing cocktail can be enjoyed by itself, while sitting on the beach or front porch, enjoying the sunshine, or it can be an amazing accompaniment to freshly barbequed chicken, ribs, or grilled veggies. It even works amazingly with a light summer fruit salad or any green salad topped with a nice vinaigrette…..think arugula with a balsamic or shallot honey vinaigrette!

Ingredients

  • 1¼ ounces botanical gin (I recommend Bluecoat or Hendrick’s)
  • ¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1½ teaspoons honey
  • 8 ounces chilled Hefeweizen or Pilsner
  • Dash of Angostura bitters (optional)
  • Lemon slice (for garnish)

 Preparation

Vigorously stir gin, lemon juice, and honey in a pint glass until honey is dissolved. BE SURE HONEY IS DISSOLVED OR IT WILL CLUMP TOGETHER MAKING THE COCKTAIL UNBALANCED.  Fill glass partway with ice. Top with beer and stir gently to combine. Top with bitters, if ya got em, and garnish with a lemon slice.

Skip & Go Naked

Since summer is a time for outdoor barbeques and larger outdoor parties sometimes you need more bang for your buck when hosting, and boy oh boy, does this next beer cocktail go off with a bang.  Reminiscent of those college days of old, this beer/vodka/lemonade libation can leave the imbibers heavily intoxicated if they are not careful, but it also can lead to epic good times if enjoyed responsibly.

I’ve heard this drink called The Pink Panty Dropper, but since my fraternity days are over and I couldn’t possibly explain that name to my guests, we’ll go with the name I grew up with The Skippy, or The Skip and Go Naked, as this has been known to occur after one has had to many.

 Ingredients

  • 24 (12 ounce) cans/bottles of a cheap lager beer (Old German)
  • 4 (12 ounce) cans of frozen pink lemonade concentrate, slightly thawed
  • 1 handle (1.75L) of vodka (Svedka Citron)
  • 4 lemons sliced to float in punch & for garnish
  • 5-gallon punch bowl, beverage server, or cooler with a pour spout (for serving)

 Preparation

Fill punch bowl/beverage server with ice.  Pour beers over ice, and wait for foam to die down.  After foam has subsided, add vodka and lemonade concentrate and stir slowly till all ingredients are well mixed together.  Garnish with slices of lemon, you can even add sprigs of fresh basil or mint for extra flavor and to make it look classy!

Adult Root BEER Float

I will always say that a great after-dinner beer can be better than dessert, and sometimes it can be both!!!  If you doubt my word, check out this next beer cocktail and prepare to see the light!

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce vanilla or whipped cream flavored vodka
  • 1 scoop of vanilla ice cream
  • 1 (12 ounce) can or bottle of root beer “ale”
  • Whipped cream (for garnish)

Preparation

Add ice cream to glass, pour vodka over top, slowly add alcoholic root beer, such as Not Your Father’s, Coney Island, or Quaker City Old Dutch, and top with whipped cream.

Hard Cider Sangria

This next cocktail is a play on a summer favorite and can be carried over into the fall!  What makes this cocktail great is it is something that even those gluten-free friends can enjoy at your next get together.  Hard cider sangria, can also be exponentially awesome due to the many variations that can be accomplished using different ciders and different seasonal fruits and juices.  This recipe is my standard for late summer and fall, but the possibilities are almost endless! Sip on these cocktails during brunch, after a hard day at work, or with dinner and you’ll be happy no matter what time of day it is!

 Ingredients

  • 1 cup quartered and thinly sliced unpeeled green, yellow and red apples (can be all the same, but 3 kinds adds color)
  • 1 navel orange—quartered and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 cup apple juice, chilled
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup apple brandy
  • 2 (12 ounce) cans or bottles of hard cider (Austin East Cider)
  • Ice

 Preparation

In a pitcher, combine the apples with the orange, apple juice, lemon juice and brandy. Just before serving, add the hard cider. Serve in tall glasses over ice. *

*Like I said before there are million variations so play with the recipe and have some fun!  One of my favorites is using Austin East Cider’s Pineapple Cider, and substituting sliced pineapple for the oranges!   Another idea for the fall is adding cinnamon, cloves, or nutmeg to the recipe for some extra autumn spice!

Well, there you have it, some cool cocktails to finish off the summer, drink them in good health, with some good friends!

Here’s to beers and plenty of cheers,

JK