Forget the Michelada.
It's not that there is anything wrong with the Mexican concoction of beer, tequila, tabasco, Worcestershire, lime and salt. It's just that a whole new world of beer cocktails – or beertails – has arrived and is raising the bar beyond just a few classics that previously defined them.
Beertails represent the best of the bar, combining the effervescent texture of brews with spirits and other nonalcoholic ingredients. Though beertails have been on and off menus for years, imbibers are taking to the concept wholeheartedly now, thanks to a new appreciation for craft beer and cocktails.
To make a tasty and chemically complex beertail, start with a balanced cocktail that stands on its own. Then choose a beer that either complements its flavors or contrasts with them, much like when pairing food and wine. It's common to top the cocktail with a few ounces of beer, stir the ingredients or slowly roll them back and forth between two glasses. But whatever you do, never shake them – your drink will lose its intended texture or worse, explode!
You could also try substituting flavored sodas for microbrews, which run the gamut of subtle flavors. Don't be afraid to experiment with robust spirits like scotch and mezcal, and various types of ales, stouts and fruit beers. When mixed well, flavors and textures in the drink blend effortlessly on the palate.
Here, three beertail pioneers reveal their best recipes:
Fire Mountain Blues
Courtesy of Gabe Bowen, bar manager of Restaurant Eugene in Atlanta
Combine all ingredients (except beer) into a mixing glass and add fresh ice. Shake and strain into a Collins glass two-thirds filled with large ice cubes. Top the rest with the pale ale and garnish with a twist of grapefruit.
The Birds and the Brews
Courtesy of Adam Seger, a Chicago-based consulting mixologist, advanced sommelier and creator of Hum, a botanical liqueur
Chill the above and strain into a pint glass half full of ice. Float ale on top. Garnish with a basil leaf.
Courtesy of Ashley Routson of Bison Brewing and founder of BeerMixology.com