Keep it real with a beer cocktail

Philip Salter
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City A.M.’s cocktail expert

In the same way that even Michelin star chefs don’t tend to cook complicated dishes outside their restaurants and fund managers leave their personal finances in the hands of other people, mixologists don’t spend their time away from the bar making cocktails. In fact most mixologists opt for beer, although you won’t catch them drinking moribund lagers; those with a taste for quality will be drinking a lively craft beer.

Proper beer – known as real ale – used to be for the socially challenged. I should know, I misspent my formative years hanging out in dingy town halls across the south of England listening to what looked like heavily pregnant men (the infamous beer belly) drone on about the necessary balance of hops and wheat. Thankfully, these aren’t the only people drinking “proper beer” anymore. The craft beer revolution is being masterminded by hipsters in fashionable dives in Shoreditch.

In essence, a “craft beer” is one that is produced on a small scale. The movement is dominated by innovation – particularly the abundant use of hops (the ingredient that gives beer that bitter taste). British craft beer relies heavily on powerful American and New Zealand hops to add a powerful punch of flavour.

You might be wondering what beer has to with cocktails. But as Ryan Chetiyawardana, twice UK Bartender of the Year, explained while exhibiting at the recent Craft Beer Rising festival: “Beers offer unique flavours and textures – and the option of carbonation ­– to cocktails.” If you are sceptical, try a Dead Pony (and I don’t mean a value beef burger). It is crafted with style.

Cocktail recipe

30ml Beefeater Gin
2 Slices of orange
1 Slice of grapefruit
15ml Rhubarb syrup
2 Dashes of orange bitters
Brewdog Dead Pony

Gently muddle ingredients
Add ice and shake briskly for just a short time.
Dump all into a tall glass and top up with Brewdog Dead Pony.
Garnish with a slice of grapefruit.