When we have people round for parties I often make a cocktail for the start of the evening and have a few recipe books. I like the idea of beer cocktails, but when I check the books that have sections on these they tend to be creations that I wouldn’t describe as cocktails necessarily, but as the horrible mixtures we used to drink as students when we wanted to get throwing-up pissed as quickly as possible. Whereas rum, vodka and gin-based cocktails reek of sophistication (until you stray too far into paper umbrella territory), depth charges, boilermakers and other shooter combos smell only of stale vomit, and a black and tan doesn’t really count as a cocktail at all.
So I had to go to Belgium overnight last week (Joe S – I would have called, but I was with clients and we had about one hour spare to devote to bars) and we were staying in the Sofitel in Brussels, a posh business hotel that manages to be just about as classy as it thinks it is – a rare thing indeed on the kinds of business trips I take these days.
And on the menu they had a section of beer cocktails, and they looked… interesting at least.
‘Mojikriek’ was – yep, you guessed it – a Mojito made with kriek, as well as rum, lime, mint and sugar.
‘Coro Island’ was tequila, lime, blue Curacao and Corona.
‘Captain Leffe’ was old rum, caramel syrup, strawberry syrup, and Leffe.
Each was served in a tumbler, shaken and poured over ice. I was on the detox, but then again, I was in Belgium. So between us, we decided to give each a try.
The Captain Leffe was not to my personal taste, but was probably the most successful as a cocktail revolving around beer as a main ingredient. You got a gorgeous, deep, caramel hit first, followed by a touch of citric sourness and then a lingering, drying, toffee-infused bitter finish. In other words, it was the sum of its parts – very tasty, but a little sweet for my palate.
I preferred the Mojikriek as a drink, although there was little beery character to it – just a faint, gentle dryness at the end of a cavalcade of candy sweetness and citrus acidity, taking it down to a lingering dry, candy fruit that reminded me of fruit pastilles.
And the Corona one was fucking horrible – I swear I could taste the lightstruck skunking even through the syrupy layers of the other ingredients.
Overall though, quite inspiring, albeit with no outright divine revelation. I get the sense that there is an amazing beer cocktail out there somewhere, that has a beery character to it and yet looks, tastes and feels like a ‘proper’ cocktail (ie something flavourful to be served in hotel bars in small glasses over ice, and sipped slowly between handfuls of those posh nuts that seem to have been coated in varnish that no one ever, ever asks for but gets given anyway and eats without quite knowing why). If anyone knows any other good beer cocktails along these sorts of lines, I’d love to hear them.