Tales of the Cocktail Presents BEERTAILS Seminar

As the world’s largest cocktail festival, Tales of the Cocktail® is by far the best event in the world for both spirits industry professionals and cocktail enthusiasts. For five days straight, the most respected minds in mixology converge in the city of New Orleans for a seemingly endless stream of cocktails, cuisine and culture.

In addition to being the biggest cocktail party in the world, Tales boasts an event schedule of seminars, dinners, competitions and tasting rooms where brands showcase their latest products. I’m thrilled to announce that this year, Tales is featuring a seminar on a topic near and dear to my heart…. beer cocktails!

Sadly, I pitched a beer mixology panel with some of my friends and our panel was rejected. However, as an advocate of the beer cocktail movement, I am just happy that the topic was not rejected. Apparently, beer mixology has enough clout and relevance that the panel judges were willing to showcase it. Yay!!

I am also excited to announce that my friends Wendy and Don over at Vanberg & DeWulf, the premier U.S. importer of amazing independent Belgian craft beers, will be sponsoring the seminar. This is a huge step for craft beer, and I’m very excited that craft beer is an integral part of this year’s Tales. Check out the information below.

More about the BEERTAILS Seminar:

Fasten your seatbelts Ladies & Gentlemen, it’s gonna be a bubbly ride. Beer is the most chemically complex alcoholic beverage in the world and top mixologists around the globe are discovering not only the flavor complexity it adds to a cocktail, but also the magic of its effervescence with elevating aromas and the unique texture it adds to a cocktail. You will ‘get your hands dirty’ and your tastebuds buzzing during this exciting 90 minute ride.

A properly made beertail starts with an exceptionally balanced cocktail onto which an appropriate beer is floated on top. The brew not only pulls the aroma of the cocktail beneath ‘up’ with its effervescence, but also compliments and contrasts with the cocktail to create a unique ‘beertail’. The lucky drinker tastes the beer with the first few sips, but with the subtle aroma of the cocktail. Then the middle of the drink is the beer and cocktail together on the palate. Because the beer floats, the final tastes are the cocktail on its own.

Our beer sponsor Vanberg and DeWulf for 30 years has been the leading importer of world class beers from Mecca..oops, Belgium. Aren’t they the same place? Through this tasting lead by some of the most forward thinking minds and palates in the beverage world, you will enjoy 20 unique flavor experiences. With Four Beertails, you will taste the cocktail on its own, then the beer on its own, then the beer floating on the cocktail with the cocktail’s aroma coming thru the head, then the cocktail and beer together and finally the cocktail at the bottom with just a hint of the beer’s malt, but sans bubbles.

To compliment Vanberg & DeWulf’s world-class beers, the base spirits for this experience will be HUM Botanical Spirit, Sombra Mezcal, El Dorado 15 Year Demerara Rum and Labrot & Graham Woodford Reserve Bourbon. “”At BEERTAILS, we treat you right””.

As cocktails hit their renaissance and craft beers hit an all time high, Tales of the Cocktail’s 10th Anniversary is the perfect forum for the movers and shakers in the cocktail world to taste and hear first-hand the ‘next big thing’ in the world-wide cocktail movement.

Breath of God

Brand new cocktail then, totally off the cuff, a bit of a collaboration really, myself and another member of staff dreamt it up but credit to Justin Rockitt refining the whole thing and making it work. We wanted to use a tripel as a foil/flipside to our really popular Brooklyn Baltic cocktail so we settled on that uber dry, crackingly bitter Westmalle Tripel. After much experimentaion we then went for a beefy navy rum, Pussers. It would work well with any navy rum really but make sure it has that savoury edge as that is the balance to the dryness of the beer.

Round it off with a dash of cassis – this gives some nice sweetness, a touch of smoke and a suggestion of liquourice, seriously! Perception is a funny thing – blackcurrant has very similar traits to all of these flavours and I’ve met people who actually perceive smoke as blackcurrant too. Orange works well with this cocktail and we rub the edge of the glass and the stem with orange oil from fresh peel.

Last touch is a good dash of orange bitters, just to pull that beer back in to focus.

We’ve tried this with a pepper rim – initially I thought it didn’t work but then having just drunk one – I’m feeling – perhaps so. I’d love to know what you think!

Glass – Martini

1/3 bottle westmalle tripel
1 shot pussers navy rum
Bar spoon of cassis
dash of orange bitters

Flame with orange zest

optional pepper rim

Father’s Day Maudite Rye

My dad can appreciate well-crafted food. While he doesn’t go out of his way to sit himself before any fragile souffles or dainty gelees, he can certainly respect the art of the dish. The same goes for beverages, except his beer habits reflect more of a meat-and-potatoes attitude. The pint of beer he likes the best is always the one he made himself (starting, for the fun of it, in the early 80’s) or something? easy’ from Trader Joe’s. A bottle of Jack Daniels in the cupboard usually means it’s the holiday season.

A cocktail that’s designed for him needs to have a solid structure, comprised of quality but available ingredients, without too many bells and whistles. I started by taking a generous slice of red apple, peeled it and chopped it, then muddled it aggressively with the faintest pinch of sugar in a rocks glass. Pour in ¾ ounce of Bulleit Rye, stack in as many ice cubes as will fit, and fill the rest of the glass with Maudite by Unibroue.

Maudite is forward but the rye lingers in the background. This cocktail is not a transformation of ingredients but a subtle coaxing of their more mellow expressions. I bring the glass to my nose and it smells of apple and pencil shavings, the likes of a fall day– maybe that’s the intrusion of childhood memories coming from the subject of the cocktail. It tastes malty and boozy, a bit bitter, sort of like a dry Calvados.

To the man who taught me not only how to ride a bike and change a tire, but to use a camera’s light meter, to compost, and to read the summer night sky. Who raised me to live actively, passionately, and to love and appreciate those around me, this one’s for you.

Happy Father’s Day, dad!

Father’s Day Maudite Rye

  • generous slice of apple, gala or red delicious, chopped
  • pinch of sugar
  • 3/4 oz. Rye whiskey
  • 1/2 bottle malty amber ale like Maudite

Muddle the apple with a pinch of sugar in a rocks glass. Pour whiskey over apple, fill the glass with ice all the way to the top, and fill with a malty amber like Maudite. Enjoy.

Liquid Pie

I’m beginning to think that naming beer cocktails is harder than actually coming up with recipes. I’ve been sitting on this recipe for over a week, trying to find a perfect name that best captures its essence. I came up with the name Liquid Pie… here is why:

This recipe was inspired by fresh blackberries and blueberries, both of which are coming into season. I’m a huge fan of berries and Bourbon. Vanilla, oak, and caramelized flavors from the Bourbon paired with the juicy, tart and fruity flavors of the berries form a flavor combination very reminiscent of pie. My Bourbon of choice is Breaking & Entering from my local distillery and beer mixology partner in crime, St. George Spirits.

To lighten up the cocktail and give it a kick of effervescence, I opted to add a bit of Pilsner to the mix. My personal favorite is Trumer Pils, brewed locally just blocks from my house in Berkeley, CA. Extremely clean with hints of biscuit and a slight noble hop bitterness, Trumer Pils brought what I will call the “pie crust” character to the cocktail.

The key to executing this cocktail well is the glassware. I opted to serve the cocktail in a Champagne flute, which restricts the surface area of the beer, forcing it to produce a thick and creamy head. A signature qualities of a Pils is its nice thick head. The proper glassware for the Pilsner, especially Trumer’s signature tall thin glass, was designed to showcase this trait. Naturally, this cocktail is way too small to pour into a Pilsner glass, so I opted to present it in a Champagne flute, which I highly recommend in order to get the desired effect.

Liquid Pie


  • 1 oz. St. George Breaking & Entering [Bourbon]
  • .5 oz. lemon juice
  • .5 oz. agave nectar
  • 2 black berries
  • 6 blueberries
  • 3 ounces Trumer Pilsner


Muddle the berries, agave nectar and lemon juice until berries are completely macerated. Add Bourbon and ice, shake vigorously & strain into a champagne flute. Slowly add the Pilsner, being careful not to let the foam get too out of control.

Honey Basil Ale Gin Fizz

Spring is upon us with a plethora of sunshine and warmth, demanding a new focus on more refreshing and bright beer cocktails. One of my favorite warm weather sippers has always been the gin fizz — bright, citrusy and effervescent. My rule of thumb with beer cocktails is: any drink that calls for soda water, tonic or juice can easily be substituted with beer. Case and point: The Gin Fizz.

This cocktail is loosely based on the Silver Gin Fizz, which calls for gin, citrus, sugar, egg whites and soda water. Inspired by Bison Brewing’s Honey Basil Ale, I chose to shake “spanked” basil with honey, fresh lemon juice, lime juice, egg whites and one of my all time favorite gins — St. George Spirit’s Botanivore — and top the concoction with beer.

The result is a tart, fizzy cocktail with hints of caramel sweetness, notes of clover honey, and a whisper of basil. Absolutely perfect for this time of year!

Honey Basil Ale Gin Fizz


  • 1.5 oz. St. George Botanivore Gin
  • .5 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • .25 oz. fresh lime juice
  • .25 oz. organic clover honey
  • 2 oz. Bison Brewing Honey Basil Ale
  • 2 fresh basil leaves


1. Add the gin, juice & egg whites to a shaker pint. Place one leaf of basil in your palm and “spank” it with the fingers on your other hand. Tear basil gently and add to shaker pint.

2. Add ice to shaker pint, then pour honey on top (this prevents it from being stuck to the bottom of the pint glass). Shake all of the ingredients vigorously to emulsify the egg whites, macerate the basil, and incorporate the honey. Strain the mixture over ice into a glass. Top with the beer.

Guanabana Iced Tea

What do you get when you cross a banana with an iguana? A Guanabana! Guanabanas, contrary to what the name may bring you to believe, is neither a reptile nor a fruit of the Musa genus. It is in fact a fruit native to many Latin American countries and also goes by the name of Soursop. Guanabana is most commonly used in ice cream and agua frescas in Mexico, which is where I initially fell in love with it. This pulpy fruit tastes lightly of mango and pineapples. It adds a wonderful tropical twist to many traditional cocktails that call for fruit juices as well as occasionally used in cooking (beer carnitas anyone?).
This beer cocktail is fresh, minty and perfect for a warm evening under the stars.

2 oz spiced rum
2oz Guanabana nectar
~4 oz Amber ale
Sprigs of mint
0.5 oz simple syrup

Mix rum, nectar, simple syrup and crushed mint leaves to an iced shaker and shake. Pour over ice and top off with 4 oz of amber ale and garnish with a sprig of mint!
Enjoy this cocktail with a light fair such as Pork with a mango and corn succotash.

Very Berry Shortcake

Spring is launching into full on summer mode pretty soon and looking for fun and fresh cocktail ideas for your brunches and lunches becomes a priority. Last week I was playing around with lambics and got the idea of trying to make a milkshake flavored cocktail. So, I did a little experimentation and came up with this recipe featuring cake vodka and instead of tasting like a milkshake I thought it was more in the realm of a shortcake. My serendipitous recipe is as follow:

You will need:

Coconut milk

Cake flavored vodka

Framboise Lambic (or another berry lambic)

Fresh berries for garnish

First you will take 3 equal parts of coconut milk, cake vodka and your lambic of choice. Shake the milk and cake vodka furiously in the shaker and pour over ice and top of with the remaining third of lambic and stir just to combine. Slice a berry and run it around the rim of your glass and use it as garnish. For variation top if off with a little whipped cream and enjoy!

Table Tennis

This cocktail has a base in a classic.  The Pimm’s Cup.  This variation uses fresh citrus juice, Pimm’s No. 1 a bit of Demerara sugar and a wheat beer that lends it’s citrus qualities to this refreshing drink.  I like Hitachino Nest White Ale, it has a touch of spice that goes nicely with Pimm’s and plenty of citrus.  The other go to is my local NOLA Brewing Co. 7th Street Wheat, which also has great lemon notes.

Table Tennis

  • .75 oz fresh lemon juice
  • .75 oz fresh lime juice
  • .75 oz fresh orange juice
  • .75 oz rich Demerara syrup
  • 1.5 oz Pimm’s No. 1

Shake and strain over ice in a collins glass.

Top Hitachino White Ale, or if you’re lucky, NOLA 7th Street Wheat.

Cherry Chia Cocktail

I’ve been on a bit of a health kick lately and those that follow me on twitter have most likely seen the daily gym check-ins. In line with my kick, I’ve gone back to drinking my favorite semi-alcoholic morning beverage: Kombucha. Kombucha is an amazing drink full of antioxidants and microbes that do everything from detoxifying your filthy self to killing that hangover you’re working on. As great as Kombucha sounds, its taste is not for everyone. Being fairly acidic to some, kombucha tastes slightly of vinegar. Keeping that in mind, I thought it would do wonderfully with a sour or fruit beer and that’s when the Cherry Chia Cocktail was born.

1.5oz   Citrus Vodka

2oz     Cherry Chia Kombucha

2oz     Kriek Lambic

0.5oz Grand Marnier

Shake Kombucha and vodka and pour over ice. Top with Kriek Lambic and float half an ounce of Grand Marnier on top. This is a perfect drink for a warm afternoon and refreshingly healthy!

Witty Fizz

I was recently challenged to make a Belgian Wit inspired beer cocktail for an upcoming event with Maui Brewing Company. When I think of pale malt beers that boast fruity, floral and slightly spicy esters — I always gravitate towards Gin. The botanical nature of gin is an excellent match for the lighter Belgian ales, such as wits and saisons.

The recipe inspiration came from the classic “Silver Fizz” — a gin based cocktail with lemon juice, sugar, egg whites and soda water. In an effort to add more flavor, I substituted the sugar with Elderflower syrup and the soda water with Maui Brewing’s La Perouse Belgian Wit-style Ale.

In order to incorporate more botanicals into the mix, I went with one of my favorite gins, St. George Spirits Botanivore. The result is a bright and refreshing, moderately tart and slight floral beer cocktail perfect for the hot spring and summer months.

Witty Fiz


  • 1.5 oz. St. George Botanivore Gin
  • .5 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • .5 oz. Monin’s Elderflower Syrup
  • .25 oz. pasterized egg whites
  • 4 oz. Maui Brewing La Perouse (Belgian Wit)


Vigorously shake gin, lemon juice, syrup and egg whites with ice. Pour over cracked ice, top with the beer.