Call it the drink innovation that never quits. Between the shandy, the michelada, and the beergarita, the perpetually trendy “beer cocktail” has been making waves ever since the English mixed ginger beer and ginger ale together in the 1800s and called it a “shandygaff.”
Even so, the beer cocktail went rogue only in recent years. Case in point: Last April, Budweiser came out with a sugary, hangover-inducing Straw-Ber-Rita to follow up on its Chelada tall boys (clamato juice and cheap beer)—a drink that should come with a warning label for sensitive stomachs.
Fortunately for us, with the return of summer, beer cocktails are back with a vengeance—only this time it’s all about the sophistication. To set the record straight, we spoke with General Manager Rudi Quarles, the mastermind behind the craft beer cocktail menu at Birmingham’s Post Office Pies.
The way Rudi sees it, beer cocktails shouldn’t be just a dumbed-down alternative to beer or a cheap way of spicing up your suds. Rather, taking into account the subtleties of the brews themselves can convert any beer-skeptic into a beer-liever.
His secret? “Think of the beer part not as a beer but as a flavor that’s added to it.”
At Post Office Pies, the most popular drink on the menu is a refreshing Kings Spring Cocktail, which melds blueberry lemonade with muddled basil and a sour and citrusy Peach Saison from Avondale Brewing Company. Try it yourself—it’s so much better than a Straw-Ber-Rita.
Kings Spring Cocktail
1 count basil
3 counts lemonade
4 counts saison
6-8 drops of Blueberry Simple Syrup (recipe below)
1. Muddle the basil with a couple pieces of ice.
2. Mix in the remaining three ingredients
3. Garnish with basil; serve with straw.
Blueberry Simple Syrup
Bring 1 count sugar and 1 count water to a boil with smashed blueberries. After the blueberries have cooked down, puree the syrup until smooth.
Still can’t get enough of the beer cocktail? Try our Apple, Lemon, and Gin Shandy, or our tart and fruity Raspberry Beer Cocktail. Bonus points: Invent your own concoction with Homemade Simple Syrup and one of our favorite Southern craft beers.