While I enjoy spirits, beers, and cocktails, I rarely add beer as an ingredient into cocktails. My palate generally doesn’t work that way, and beer just isn’t an ingredient that I think of very often when creating a new cocktail.
When it comes to beer cocktails, I don’t think that there is anyone better at creating them in the United States than Jacob Grier. Luckily for me, a few weeks ago, Mr. Grier bellied up to my bar (in the interest of full disclosure, Jacob Grier is someone that I consider a close, personal friend, but click here if you want more of Mr. Grier’s bona fides), and we started playing around with some cocktails. He suggested a cocktail idea of Damrak gin, Aperol, lemon juice, and the India pale ale that I had on tap from Double Mountain Brewery. The result was excellent, so much so that I decided to keep playing with the combination.
One of the keys in running a successful bar is to be able to take a lesser product, modify it into something special, and sell it for a profit. I’d recently received a bottle of whiskey that wasn’t up to my personal and my restaurant’s standards. The whiskey wasn’t bad, and it wasn’t made incorrectly. It was simply pedestrian, and at a $30 price point, I couldn’t justify putting this whiskey on display when it tasted like a $10 bottle.
When you end up with a product like that, you have two choices. First, you can sell the whiskey for full retail and hope your guests don’t realize that it’s middling juice. Second, you can try to figure out a way to use the whiskey in a cocktail, not to cover up the whiskey, but to complement it with additional flavors.
I opted for the second choice, and with Mr. Grier’s idea in my mind, I started experimenting with my ingredients. I’ve made some very minor modifications, substituting whiskey for Damrak gin and Campari for Aperol, but the result is a cocktail that is flexible and easy to make. You don’t need to worry too much about which brand of whiskey you are using or what kind of India pale ale you are pouring, just focus on your proportions, and this drink will work out fine. The result is this: IPA Whiskey Spritz, a refreshing combination of whiskey, Campari, lemon juice, and India pale ale. Try one of these at home this summer or ask your favorite bartender to recreate this one for you. And if whiskey isn’t your bag, Mr. Grier’s version with Damrak gin is pretty delicious too.
IPA Whiskey Spritz
Makes one cocktail.
- 1 ounce whiskey (bourbon, Canadian, or Irish preferred)
- ½ ounce Campari
- ½ ounce lemon juice (fresh is best)
- 4 ounces India pale ale
- In a double rocks glass, add first three ingredients.
- Add ice.
- Top with India pale ale.