Beer is always on tap during the summer months, but instead of the same old brew, we're suggesting beer-based cocktails. There are of course a few classics we'd be remiss in not mentioning: the shandy (beer with carbonated lemonade or ginger ale), snakebite (beer and cider), the beer-on-beer black and tan, the boilermaker (beer with a shot of whiskey) and the Irish car bomb (Irish stout with Irish cream and whiskey). This list features a few of the more exotic beer-based tipples out there, starting with one of our favorite hot-weather cocktails, a southern import from Mexico.
Bud Platinum Michelada
The michelada comes in many forms, as most of these beer-based cocktails do. The key to an authentic one is Maggi seasoning (now made by Nestle), but you can make an adequate substitute with soy sauce. These days, you can buy pre-mixed micheladas and cheladas, especially in the South, but this version, mixed from scratch, easily trumps them if you're looking for a refreshing, tart summer beverage to beat the heat. (Anheuser-Busch offers canned versions, mixed with Clamato, which can serve as an alternative to the Worcestershire, Maggi, and Tabasco mix used here.)
Rim a pint glass with a wedge of lime and then dip it in a plate of celery salt as you would a margarita. Then combine ice, one 12-ounce can of Budweiser Platinum, a teaspoon or two each of Tabasco sauce, Worcestshire sauce and Maggi sauce and the juice of half a lime. Add a few dashes of white or black pepper for an added kick.
Skip 'n' Go Naked
This delightfully high-proof summer quaffer is also known as a pink panty dropper, suggesting the single gents among you may want to keep the recipe close at hand. The skip 'n' go naked is a party beverage, meant to be made in bulk. You can cut the dosage down easily enough, but we're offering this recipe just as it was intended: in a very large quantity. In a large punch bowl (or for larger parties and larger volumes, a garbage can, college-style), combine a six-pack of Bud Light, a can of frozen lemonade (pink suggested) and then that same lemonade can's worth of vodka. Stir it all up until the frozen lemonade is fully melted, and let the panty raid commence.
Despite the fact that this concoction has only been around for about a decade or two, it sounds like something out of the movie "Animal House," and there's no surprise that its origins are purported to be the college bars surrounding Purdue University (ironically, home of the Boilermakers). This one's a doozy. Combine one can of lager with one shot each of vodka, rum, gin and tequila, and then splash in a little triple sec and sour mix. Serve it in whatever the hell you want.
Leffe Blonde Colaweizen
The colaweizen is a European tradition that we Americans would do well to import more often, especially on those hot, hazy, early Saturday afternoons. The colaweizen is basically exactly what it sounds like: a wheat beer with cola. Our favorite combo is the Leffe Blonde colaweizen, as the beer's bitter citrus element goes perfectly with a few ounces of sweet, syrupy Coca-Cola. If you're in desperate need of that caffeine fix, adjust the proportions to half-cola, half-beer, turning it into a Broadway.
The black velvet is an Irish barkeep favorite, and it looks as sexy as it sounds. It's also extremely simple. Begin with a champagne flute filled half way with Guinness stout, then gently fill it nearly the rest of the way with champagne or another brut-style sparkling wine.
Woodpecker Cider Cup
Beer's answer to sangria comes in the form of a cider cup, which is really more of a pitcher. This recipe is adopted from one by pre-Prohibition wine and spirits expert Jacques Straub, who presided over Kentucky's Pendennis Club before taking over the beverage program at Chicago's Blackstone Hotel for more than 30 years. It was published in his 1913 edition of "A Complete Manual of Mixed Drinks for All Occasions." In a large pitcher, combine, half of a sliced blood orange, half a Meyer lemon, six slices of pineapple and a half-dozen maraschino cherries and a dash of their juice. Add a shot of brandy, a shot of blue curacao and three bottles of Woodpecker cider, and garnish with a sprig of mint.
The radler is a variation on the shandy with an entertaining an apocryphal story behind it: Radler is the German word for "cyclist" (or something like that), and legend has it that the drink was invented when a Bavarian inn was overrun with participants in a bike race in the late 19th century. Faced with dwindling beer supplies, the owner of the bar started lemonading down his blonde lager. The cyclists took well to it for its restorative and refreshing properties, and the radler was born. It's a 50-50 mix of beer (preferably a blonde lager like the aforementioned Leffe) and lemonade, combined in a tall pint glass.
Yet another European creation, the U-boot, which may in fact be more aptly named than one would hope, is inspired by the U-boat submarines, as a shot of vodka is submarined in a pint of beer. It's basically a boilermaker with vodka substituted for whiskey. It will also torpedo your chances of getting behind the wheel if you drink more than one.
The pipe wrench is a little bit of England and India thrown together, in the same spirit as the boilermaker and the U-boot. Here, the liquor is poured across the top of the beer as a float rather than dropped in a shot glass. In a nearly full pint glass of India pale ale, gently add a shot of gin and garnish with a wedge of lime.
Next: Summer Gin Cocktails
Yet another beer-and-a-shot club entry, the McLester bomb looks to Jamaica for its simple Caribbean inspiration. Combine a bottle of Red Stripe in a glass with a shot of Bacardi 151 rum and garnish with a watermelon if you don't have access to a fresh stick of sugarcane.