Beer Cocktails

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You probably thought I’d forgotten about this, or at least transferred my allegiance to Vittles (hi, new subscribers!), but in fact the dearth of content has been us moving between drinking seasons. In winter we can rely on the heavy stirred brown drinks to sip huddled against the radiator, and in spring the zingy sours and gins & tonic get us ready as the days slowly lengthen. But summer, in full flow, sunlight hammering down on you, requires a special sort of drink. Too many punchy sours or boozy juleps is going to leave you dehydrated and nursing a late afternoon hangover, but there’s one ingredient that is perfect for all day park boozing: beer.

Beer cocktails get a bit of a novelty nod, as they’re generally tacked onto a menu for some novelty, or dispensed by an extremely moustachioed waistcoat wearing mixologist desperate to find an ingredient no-one else has used. But used judiciously, and without pretension, beer cocktails are a thing of beauty.

First up: the humble Shandy and its bruiser brother, the Top. On a long summery pub garden day, or at the end of a decent hike or bike ride, nothing quenches the thirst like a good bitter shandy. Post-mix lemonade and commercial ale is just perfectly bittersweet, colder than an ale, warmer than the lager top you’ll follow it with, it’s a balm on a hot dry day. That lager top; a splash of lemonade added at the end, where your first couple of mouthfuls are sickly sweet before you hit the unadulterated lager and its exaggerated fizz. Don’t bother making these at home, we’ve got a summer of pub gardens to squeeze in and these are the means to loiter at a table for a full 8 hours.

Next, the Michelada; normally described as a beer Bloody Mary, this wonder means we can dispense with the textural nightmare that is a regular Mary and solve our hangovers in style. The Michelada is one of those fantastic drinks that takes a million forms, and if you order one in Mexico you’ll often be presented with a tray of fixings to personalise it. What you often won’t see, though, is tomato juice, as Clamato (tomato juice with clam water added) is both more popular and more delicious. But a Michelada doesn’t even need to contain tomato, at it’s simplest and maybe best it’s just hot sauce, lime and salt added to a beer. My mouth is watering just typing that sentence. The even simpler baby brother, the Chelada, just uses lime and salt. It still bangs.

Here’s a couple of recipes. The Desperados one is my favourite, but if you can hunt down the Negra Modelo and clamato that’s well worth a punt.

  • 1 bottle Desperados
  • 15ml Valentina hot sauce
  • 20ml Lime
  • Serve over ice with a very salty rim


  • 1 bottle Negra Modelo
  • 100ml Clamato
  • 10ml Green Tabasco
  • 15ml Lime
  • Serve over ice with a salt rim

For the Lagerita, I’ll refer you to my video tutorial over on instagram. It’s a bruiser of a drink, and one that will make you throw caution to the winds, so consider yourself warned…but what a beautiful portmanteau of a drink it is.

A slightly more strained pun, but absolutely worth it, the Pina Colager was everywhere in London a few summers back, and I’d like to take some responsibility for that. There’s a load of recipes floating around, so I’ll stick with the one we came up with at Off Broadway:

  • 35ml Malibu
  • 75ml Pineapple Juice
  • Serve over ice in a pint glass, topped with a light but hoppy pale ale.

But for me, the ultimate in refreshing beer cocktails is the Manhattans Project classic (this was on my first ever menu!), the Italian Pale Ale. 

  • 50ml Campari
  • 10ml Lemon
  • Serve over ice in a pint glass, topped with pale ale and garnished with a squeezed grapefruit wedge.

It’s like an Aperol Spritz that went away on a gap year and came back extremely hot; perfectly thirst quenching and bitter, with enough sugar to transition you from pub garden to afters with your social bubble, and by now you’ve probably realised you don’t actually like Negronis so this is a great way to use up that Campari.