The malt body and roasted flavours of stouts, porters and other black beers lend themselves well to cocktails and they have been a favourite of mixologists over the years.
The classic black beer cocktail is the Black Velvet reportedly created at the Brooks Club in London in 1861 as a black-coloured mourning drink for Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert. Guinness and French champagne are the traditionally recommended ingredients, but champagne in those days was likely to have been sweeter than it is today and the Guinness would not have been aerated with nitrogen so would have been less silky and more dry.
To recreate the original flavour use a dry stout like Eagle Coalface Stout and a prosecco from Tosti.
For a Poor Man’s Black Velvet the champagne is replaced by a dry cider. For this variation on a snakebite, try your teenagers favourite tipple – Harvest Scrumpy.
Poterowska is a favourite party drink of mine that I picked up from the books of British drinks writer Ian Wisniewski. It is a 50:50 blend of black beer and vodka that you drink in shooters, as it weighs in at around 23-28% abv depending on the strength of the beers and/or vodka. The trick is to use two different black beers: a stout and porter or schwarzbier. Mix 500ml beer with 500ml of vodka (preferably over proof) in a litre bottle and allow to marry for a day or two and then light blue touch paper and stand well back.
A variation on the vodka-black beer combo is to use a 42 Below’s manuka honey vodka to add a vanilla note, a drink I call Black Honey. When stuck in bars with nothing stronger than the usual 5% premium beers add a single shot of manuka vodka to a bottle of Monteith’s Black or Black Mac and see where that takes you.
Another white spirit and black beer cocktail is Dog’s Nose – gin and porter. Take a single of mild juniper gin like Bombay Sapphire and mix with 330ml of Emerson’s London Porter.
Staying with Porter, Porter Gaff is a shandy made with equal part porter/stout and lemonade. Don’t go overboard on the lemon flavours, just look to lighten the dark beer flavours.
Another porter cocktail is Porter Sangaree – a variation on an 1800s classic cocktail. Add a tsp of brown sugar (like demerara) to the bottom of the glass, top with a 335ml bottle of porter (try Yeastie Boys Pot Kettle Black if you dare) and grate nutmeg over the top. Simple but flavourful.
Porter and rum cocktails are common in the recipe books, usually made with lime juice. Rum was originally known as ‘kill-devil’ and this following one is a historical Australian recipe which picks up on the zombie theme. Known as Blow My Skull you mix a double dark rum, a single brandy/cognac, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar syrup and 30ml of lime juice in a proper pint glass. Then top with a 500ml bottle of porter (try Renaissance Elemental Porter) stirring as you go. One is recommended.