Tips for Winter Beer Cocktails

Beer cocktails aren’t just for warm-weather sipping. At Dusek’s Board & Beer in Chicago, beverage director Rob Boyd takes beer cocktails from typical summer patio crushers into hearty winter warmers using seasonal offerings from the restaurant’s 24 rotating draft beers.

Rob Boyd
Rob Boyd

The bar’s inventive beer cocktails include Rusty Nailed It (shown above), with Monkey Shoulder blended Scotch, Drambuie, lime and Thalia Hall Pilsner, a local and exclusive brew. The Belgian Fashioned is made with Templeton rye, 90s fruit, aromatic bitters, and Belgian candi syrup made from Belgian Candi sugar that’s used in stronger Belgian beers.

Here are some of Boyd’s tips for winterizing your beer cocktails.

EMBRACE THE WINTER BULK. Witbier, gose and lighter lagers are the most commonly used styles for beer cocktails in the summer. As the cold weather begins, switch to heavier styles, such as coffee stouts or Belgian brews, for a brawnier flavor.

Rauchbier is a favorite of Boyd’s in the early winter. It provides flavors of smoke and bitter elements commonly found in an amaro that make for cozy, rich seasonal drinks.

THE GOLDEN BEER RATIO. Higher beer ratio is great in a low-ABV patio crusher so that you can drink all day in the summer. But in the winter most guests are looking for something with a little more heat.

Using the beer to create rich syrups to complement the spirits is a great way to incorporate it into the drink, Boyd says. It also allows you go a bit heavier on the actual spirit to warm up your bones.

A BEER A DAY KEEPS THE DOCTOR AWAY: As the winter freeze takes over and it becomes harder to find out-of-season produce, beer can be a great option to get those flavors. For instance, lambics and ciders come in so many different styles and can provide both sweet and tart flavors guests look for in a beer cocktail.

SPICE UP YOUR LIFE: Don’t be afraid to add a little spice to beer cocktails. Winter is a great time to use ingredients such as spiced rum, cinnamon-infused syrups, allspice, etc. Not only do these ingredients have intrinsically warm qualities, they enhance the spice profiles often found in cold-weather beers.

Rusty Nailed It
(shown atop)
1 oz. Monkey Shoulder Blended Scotch
1 oz. Drambuie
¾ oz. Lime juice
Pilsner

Combine Scotch, Drambuie and lime in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and double strain into a Collins glass filled with ice. Top with a pilsner and garnish with a lime wheel and cherry.