Food & Drink

We’re buzzed for cheap beer cocktails

Shandygaff: Sounds like a wizard; tastes like magic

If the thought of mixing beer with liquor brings you back to the dim-lit basements of high school party days, it’s time to revisit this old-fashioned alcoholic hybrid. Beer has appeared in cocktail recipes ever since the conception of the mixed drink. And come summertime, the beer cocktail is a popular feature on menus and in bottles. The familiar ones usually rely on the lightest beers, and the results are refreshing and simple, like an easy beach read, and perfect for transforming your cheap bodega booze into something fancy on a Brokelyn budget. We’ve compiled a couple of classic beer cocktails to try on your own for less than $3 a glass.

For the slightly more delicate pockets of our Brokelyn readers, a simple two-part “hoptail” like the Shandygaff or Black Velvet is a safe way to spread your mixed drink wings and get those weird beer-fearing “I prefer wine” friends to chill out.

This drink should be mandatory on all backyard barbecue menus. The ginger beer adds a sweet and spicy extra fizz that actually enhances the crisp quality of a good pale ale — especially in those last few swigs which somehow always turn flat when consumed under the sun.

Make it:Pour equal parts pale ale and ginger beer, the spicier the better, into a pint glass. Serve chilled over ice with orange or lemon slice for garnish.

Sierra Nevada – 6 pack for $9.99
Ginger Beer – 6 pack for $7.99
TOTAL: $17.98 for 12 drinks or $1.49 each

The pro version: Just about anywhere can make a decent variation of this summer favorite. Northeast Kingdom makes a classy elderflower version with St. Germain over Allegash White.
($8, 18 Wyckoff Avenue, Bushwick, Brooklyn)

Black Velvet

Again, adding fizz to a dark and heavy stout might seem to the manliest of men like putting pink fuzzy covers over your motorcycle seat. But with the right combinations, the effect is refreshingly nuanced and full, with the champagne giving a perfect cut to a rich chocolaty stout. Chocolate and champagne, people. Don’t act like you’ve never heard of it!

Make it: Pour equal parts chilled stout, then brut champagne or sparkling white wine into a champage glass.

1 pint Imperial Stout – $4.99
Andre’s Champagne Brut – $5.99
TOTAL: $10.98 for about 4 drinks, $2.75 each

The pro version: Prospect Heights restaurant James has been singled out for their Black Velvets, featuring Leffe Brun, a caramely dark ale from Belgium
($10, 605 Carlton Ave., Prospect Heights, Brooklyn)

The proportions are crucial with this drink and you could very easily wind up with the sad taste of a watered down vodka Bloody Mary. We’d recommend something even darker than Sol, but no heavier than Founders Pale Ale for a Michelada that doesn’t compromise on the hoppy flavor and malted finish of a good brew. When done right, this is a full-bodied, wholly satisfying accoutrement to add to weekend brunch’s picks.

Make it:


1 lime’s worth of fresh squeezed lime juice
Tabasco or other bottled hot sauce
Worcestershire sauce
Soy sauce
1-3 ounces tomato juice
Beer (1 can per drink)
Optional: 1 shot of tequila

Squeeze lime juice and pour sauces and tomato juice into a pint glass. Top with beer and optional shot of tequila.

With any luck, your kitchen will already be stocked with most of the sauce ingredients. For the rest:

6 pack of Sol – $7.99
Tomato Juice – $2.19
Tabasco sauce – $2.49
Lime – $.50
TOTAL: $13.17 for 6 drinks or $2.19 each

The pro version: The Michelada Cubana at Hecho en Dumbo features a light Bohemia lager and special spice mix.
($8, 111 Front St., Dumbo, Brooklyn)

Got the itch for this new world of hop-tails? Here’s more you can try, though they will cost you a bit more:

Margaveza: A popular combination of margarita and beer, just like the name implies.
Daddy’s ($5, 435 Graham Ave)

Ale Flip: Bar Celona throws a Brooklyn twist into the classic stout beer cocktail. They call it the Crooklyn Flip.
Bar Celona ($11, 104 South 4th Street)

The great thing about the beer cocktail — besides stirring up some controversial debates between booze puritans and separatists — is how easily you can substitute a light lager with something more substantial for only a few extra bucks. That said, there’s basically endless room for improving the taste, and the price difference, unlike jumping from a house to top-shelf whiskey, won’t hurt nearly as much. If you believe there’s such thing as booze heaven, you better believe that’s where this match was made.

(*Prices from Associated Market in Bushwick on Starr and Knickerbocker.)


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