Summer is not over yet. So in its final few weeks, before responsibility replaces the carefree glow of August, squeeze out every last moment of sweaty beach days, sunset bike rides and a favorite summer tradition, the beer cocktail. Sure, there’s a refreshing Michelada or Shandy on a hazy afternoon, but the possibilities for a great beer cocktail are as unlimited as your imagination.
Crisp lager, creamy stout, fruity hefeweizen and even malt liquor reveal brand-new notes when smartly paired with compelling flavors. A splash of something sweet, a nudge of something sour or a rush of alcoholic bite can transform even the most blah can of brew into something bright, unexpected and addictive. So take a good look at your corner store fridge next time; it’s overflowing with happy bottles waiting to play. And make these five beer cocktails before summer is a wrap.
1. ¡A Huevo!
In literal Spanish, a huevo means “to egg.” But in Mexican slang, it means “hell, yeah!” or something less PC, depending on whom you ask. This mashup of a Michelada and Margarita is a big ¡a huevo! in my book. Tequila gets a sweetening assist from Bud Light Lime-A-Rita, fresh lime juice pushes the acid forward, and hot sauce (I’m a Valentina guy, but follow your heart) leaves a gentle burn on the end. ¡Arriba, abajo, al centro, pa’ adentro!
2. Bodega Dog
The classic cocktail of gin and grapefruit is called a Greyhound. Add a salt rim, and it’s a Salty Dog. Mess it up with grapefruit beer and spicy seasoning salt, and a Bodega Dog sounds about right. The surprise is in the refinement: Schofferhofer makes a beautifully fruity beer that only gets better when paired with a floral gin (the lime and chile notes in the Tajín seasoning make it something really special). But if you want to chug half a bottle of beer, tip in a cheap vodka nipper and sprinkle the seasoning down the hatch, you do you. The Bodega Dog is not here to judge.
3. Sanka, Ya Dead?
In junior high, I spent most of my free time with my best friend’s big Jamaican family. I felt right at home because, just like my Irish family, they had a disregard for the legal drinking age and a deep love of Guinness. This variation on a Guinness Punch, my favorite Jamaican tradition, has ice cream stepping in for condensed milk and a splash of Appleton Estate rum for extra hair on the chest. It’s dedicated to my second favorite Jamaican tradition, fictional Olympic bobsledder Sanka Coffie.
4. High School Friends
No question, this is my drink of the summer. Not only is it a tart and boozy riff on a Whiskey Sour, it also whooshes me back to every great/terrible decision I made in the early 2000s. You’ll never catch me ordering either of these separately, but the sweet-sourness of Mike’s Hard Lemonade plus the alcoholic bite of Jim Beam bourbon is heaven in a cup. The pile of crushed ice makes it seem all boat-shoes-and-ironed-shorts, but the nostalgia is totally Vans-and-zip-off-cargo-pants.
5. Big Red
The snap of ginger, the smoke of scotch, the King of Beers. These are odd but happy bedfellows. Budweiser on its own is my go-to summer beer (so unsophisticated, I know). But mixed in this cocktail, I get notes of fruit, malt and bitter like never before. Was it the ginger beer? Was it Mr. Walker? Who knows? But I can say this for sure: Big Red is the ultimate in summer lounging.