Whether seeking a cocktail with lower potency or searching for a different flavor profile, beer-based drinks provide an effective alternative. Effervescent, refreshing, and complex because they’re unexpected, these recipes range from spins on classics to entirely new concoctions—some are spicy, while others lean toward sweet. Best of all, most can be easily replicated (or at least remixed) at home because the recipes require few precise calculations and ingredients that are readily available.
No Bar’s In The Gig
The Standard East Village’s in-hotel “new-wave gay bar,” NO BAR, boasts its own incredibly complex lager-based cocktail. Using Tecate (a mild Mexican brew) as a starter, bartenders add house-made Leche de Tigre (a strained off combination of lime juice, fish stock, onion, chiles, salt and pepper), lime, and Togarashi (a Japanese seasoning comprising of dried peppers, ginger and seaweed) to form a multifaceted final profile. Refreshing yet far from watery, the bar’s general sense of lawlessness carries over into this cocktail in particular: it’s first a bit funky and sour, but then it’s salty and umami-like. A mezcal shot can be added to up its impact.
Lower East Side Thai restaurant Wayla offers a Singchelada, a spin on the beloved Michelada. Using Singha pale lager as a base, their bartenders add Tom’s Green Papaya Sauce, soy, and cherry plum sea salt to build flavor. The final result is reminiscent of its inspiration, but proves far lighter and ultimately more refreshing. Ordered during brunch service, it’s a lower ABV alternative to vodka-based Bloody Mary drinks aimed at delivering a similar experience.
Mister Paradise’s Pensacola Breezer
As the name implies, Mister Paradise‘s beer-based cocktail would be a welcome addition to beachside bars and properties in Florida’s westernmost beachside city, Pensacola. Comprising a mix of the bar’s house lager (which rotates in producer but not in profile), grapefruit and Campari, the Pensacola Breezer is ultra-refreshing and a little tart. Since the pilsner lends bread-like notes, the grapefruit seeps in, countering its dryness. Bubbly, bright, and with a bit of bite, this drink can be fairly easily replicated.
Devon’s Boilermaker #1
Though the staff at Devon, a cocktail bar (with a revamped food menu) in the Lower East Side, intended for the parts of this drink to be consumed consecutively, rather than simultaneously, sipping a bit from the Pilsner (a standard, ultra-dry local brew) and taking your shot (a house-made combination of overproof brown apple butter brandy and Cynar) ultimately results in a buttery, bready, and almost dessert-like drink. Though this isn’t a cocktail by any traditional definition—and its name inherently discourages mixing—this unexpected experiment proves delicious.
Ernesto’s Balanced Breakfast
Newly opened restaurant Ernesto’s employs lemon and grapefruit juices, simple syrup and red Cappelletti bitters as a still base for Brooklyn’s Folksbier’s Pilsner. Similar to a spritz in its final profile, the effervescent, citrusy drink fills a tall glass and refreshes, all without being overpowering or boozy. An ideal match for a hot summer day, or as a contrast to fried and cured tapas courses, the Balanced Breakfast, as it’s called on the menu, would work alongside a meal at any hour.
Goodnight Sonny’s Tecate With The Works
Though arguably the easiest to make on this list, East Village bar Goodnight Sonny‘s Tecate With The Works is perhaps the most revelatory. Comprised of hot sauce, lime and a house-made salt mix, The Works are an optional addition but they should be standard—or sought out. This is another recipe that can be replicated at home with ingredients you likely already own or favor over others.
Hero image by Jenna Murray for Mister Paradise