Pink Panty Dropper.  Irish Steamroller.  Porch Crawler.

Hmm…A list of my nicknames from high school?  Well, no, (despite the sometimes aptness of the names); these are just a few of the many beer cocktails out there.  And with each passing day at the hands of clever mixologists, they’re getting more complex and taking their rightful place on cocktail lists.

A beer cocktail?  Say huh?  What the f is that?  Why would I want to ruin the taste of my delicious Michelob by adding anything to it?  Well don’t hold on to that can too tightly, because you’re going to start seeing more and more beer-based libations hitting the bar tops near you.  But they’re far from new…

The word “cocktail” originally was used to denote a drink made with distilled spirits, sugar, water and bitters.  These were the “classics”, and spawned a multitude of drinks playing off this basic recipe, like the Old Fashioned.  But today, the word cocktail has broadened and has come to mean any mixed drink made with alcohol.  (For those curious geeks who want to dig a bit deeper, the origins of the word itself are quite interesting).


Beer cocktails themselves have been with us for hundreds of years.  In Colonial America, the Flip was a popular drink that consisted of mixing two quarts of beer with a half pint of gin, four beaten eggs and four ounces of sugar.  It was poured vigorously between two steins until foamy and sprinkled with a bit of nutmeg.  

Those who were feeling more adventurous grabbed a hot poker from the fire, stuck into the drink and gave it a quick stir, which imparted a toasty flavor.  Wow.  I want to sit fireside with Ben Franklin sipping on one of those bad boys, because it’s bound to go to straight to the head and with all those hot pokers lying around, the fun is sure to never end.

The Shandy was a popular drink in 17th century England, which consisted of a lager topped with a pour of lemonade, ginger beer or ginger ale.  This gave the beer a nice zip and it went down like a cool glass of lemonade (not to mention disguised the often poor quality of the brew).  

talk about a hangover...

talk about a hangover...

Today, a popular drink in England is the Snakebite, which consists of your favorite beer mixed half and half with cider.  (Author’s note:  I lived in Sunderland, England for a year, and after a particularly raucous night where I received many bites of the snake, I can no longer go near a Snakebite, nor stand the smell or taste of cider).

Japan has a version called the Broadway made by mixing beer with cola, and versions abound worldwide made with additions like Tabasco sauce, coffee or melon liqueurs.  But these are amateur in comparison to some of today’s beer cocktails.  

At the recent James Beard Awards, I met mixologist Bridget Albert who was serving the Chicago-Style Cocktail made with Goose Island Matilada Belgian Style Ale, Raspberry Ginger Shrub Syrup, Cane Rum and Grand Marnier, which blew my mind with its flavor balance and use of seasonal ingredients (click here for the recipe).  


Abbey Flip

Mixologist Marshall Altier designed the Abbey Flip, which we serve at Terroir wine bar and is made with Ommegang Abbey Ale, Pomegranate Molasses, Coriander Syrup, egg yolks and a dash of nutmeg (sorry, no hot poker though).

Now get out and HopSkip and Go Naked, but keep it on the Down Low or you may have a Meltdown and wake up with a nasty Russian Eyebrow.


3 Responses to “Beer Cocktails, Not Your Grandmother’s Shandy”

  1. David H. says:

    Now that’s clear, concise and full of the flavor of Flaherty. And now I’m jonezin’ for a beer cocktail. When we gettin’ one?

  2. David Flaherty says:

    David H, soon! I hereby declare the first Saturday of every month to be Beer Cocktail Day. Every one meet at my place at 9 am for Red Eyes (Clamato juice and light beer) and then we’ll work our way up the beer cocktail chain. I hear Philip Ward at Mayahuel is pouring the El Jimador’s Shifty made with Negra Modelo and Mezcal, served with a salt, sugar and cayenne pepper rim. Get it!

  3. […] the things you can do with magnets and superconductors are straight out of science fiction… Source“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to have flying trains.”—Stuff Franklin […]

Leave a Reply