Nothing says summer like grabbing a beer from the cooler and popping it open, especially on a hot, humid day. So you might be tempted to spend the afternoon drinking beer on the porch, which admittedly is a pretty great way to spend an afternoon. But beer doesn’t have to be a solo act. Instead, think of what else you might do with that crisp, tasty ale or lager.
Beer adds body, bubbles and a frothy kick to cocktails. From drinks where beer is the star of the show to others where it accents mezcal or Aperol, beer is primed to amp up the refreshment of your next summer cocktail. To get you started, here are eight easy-to-mix beer cocktails to help you beat the heat.
The alfresco rooftop at 8UP Drinkery & Kitchen in Louisville, Ky., may be an ideal location to sip this grapefruit cooler, but it tastes equally good mixed at home. This take on the Mexican classic makes a match of tequila and Stiegl radler, which is then rounded out by fresh grapefruit and lime juices. The finished product is tall, cool, refreshing and just a hair boozier than your typical Paloma.
The Michelada isn’t merely a Bloody Mary made with beer instead of vodka, as you might have heard. Instead, the classic Mexican recipe skips tomato juice entirely and wallops the cold beer with spices, lime and other flavorful accents like hot sauce and Worcestershire. You can choose your favorite beer as the starting point, but you can’t go wrong with a Mexican lager like Tecate or Modelo Especial.
Now that you’ve perfected the original Michelada, you’re ready to crank out batches of this updated version at your next summer barbecue or brunch. Beer is usually the sole source of alcohol in a Michelada, but New York City’s Tijuana Picnic gives their Mayan Michelada an extra bolt with a small pour of joven mezcal, which adds subtle smoke and agave notes to the drink.
Craft Irish whiskey meets tropical IPA in this cocktail, created by Sam Ruppert at Chicago brewery DryHop. The balanced sipper is bright with sweetness and color from Heering cherry liqueur and demerara sugar syrup. The recipe calls for DryHop’s Shark Meets Hipster tropical wheat IPA, but any similar style of IPA will do. Feel free to experiment with what’s available. To up the smokiness, add a few spritzes of peaty Laphroaig whisky mist to finish.
This beer-tail comes from Michael Przybyl, the beverage manager at David’s Club at the Hilton Orlando. He likes adding beer to cocktails because it helps maintain their effervescence when they’re gently stirred rather than vigorously shaken. “Beer has become very sophisticated and is the perfect base for a cocktail,” he says. “Besides, why should liquor have all the fun in a cocktail?” Short answer: It shouldn’t.
Okay, this one’s less of a beer cocktail and more of a beer-and-a-shot coupling. But still, it counts. Because good things happen when you mix beer and liquor, and that also applies when you drop a shot into said beer. The traditional choice is bourbon or rye with a light lager or ale, but the Boilermaker allows you to choose your own adventure. Tequila in a Mexican lager? Sure. Irish whiskey in a Guinness? You bet. There’s lots of room to experiment, which is part of what makes the Boilermaker so fun.
What happens when you make a maple syrup-tinged Whiskey Sour (with egg white, thank you very much) and then mix in barbecue bitters and beer? And add a barbecue dry rub spice rim and garnish with beef jerky? This nearly over-the-top cocktail, that's what. It's crying out to be shaken up during sports events or perhaps a backyard barbecue.
Washington, D.C., restaurant and bar Roofers Union gets high marks for its beer program, so it’s little surprise that suds have bled into the cocktail list. As the drink’s name would suggest, the Here Comes the Sun is brilliant in both color and flavor. Rye whiskey lends a spice and depth that play well with the ginger and lemon. A splash of wheat beer ties the citrus and spice elements together, giving the whole shebang a refreshingly fizzy mouthfeel.