Measure & Stir

A Craft Cocktail Blog for the Home Bartender that Focuses on Original Creations Drawn from Culinary Inspiration.


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Libation Labs: India Pale Ale

Hello, everyone. It is the last day before our holiday hiatus, so we thought we’d end on a high note. As you probably know, this has been beer week, and we’re pleased to wrap up with what were, for me, the highlights of the week, which created when we couldn’t decide which direction to take an IPA-based libation.

east indies 1

My first intuition was to play off the bitter notes in the IPA with a bitter liqueur, and I selected Cynar for that role, because I thought that the bitterness of hops would be similar to the bitterness of the artichoke. And indeed, it was a pleasing combination. I also know that gin pairs well with Cynar, and further expected harmony between gin’s botanicals and the herbal qualities of India Pale Ale. We soured it with some lime, but then all the bitter and sour required balance.

I had intended to use simple syrup, but sometimes when drinks are flying left and right (metaphorically), and you realize you’re out of simple syrup, you let it overcook and it starts to caramelize. This is the second time I have accidentally done this since starting the blog; the first time was in production of our Banana Julep . In this case, we decided to go ahead and use the caramelized syrup anyway, and it worked even better than simple syrup would have, in my opinion.

Caramelized Syrup
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
bring to a rolling boil for ~ten minutes. Kill the heat, and fortify with 1 oz of 151 proof rum.

east indies 2

East Indies Highball
2 oz Gin (Beefeater)
.5 oz Caramelized Syrup (above)
.5 oz Cynar
2/3 oz Lime
2 oz IPA (Ninkasi Total Domination)
Shake all except beer and then double-strain over fresh ice. Garnish with a scored lime wedge.

This was an herbal drink, effervescent, bitter, with a counterpoint of caramelized sugar. My favorite of the week. I do not have an exact beer template for you, but my general approach is to formulate a drink that tastes good on its own, and that I think will taste good with a particular beer, and then top that drink with beer.

I am of the opinion that mixing wine, including aromatized wine, with beer, would be in poor taste. That means that the base of your beer drink should be sour or succulent, or maybe driven by liqueur. I have greatly enjoyed beer drinks that use viscous, jammy preparations of fruit, including purees as well as actual jams. Beer is already thick, so it works well to fortify that with something pulpy.

If I had to give you a formula, it would look like:

Beer Template
1.5 oz base spirit
1 oz Fresh juice or .75 oz Fruit Puree
.75 oz Liqueur or Syrup
Dash of Bitters
Shake and strain over ice, and top with 3 oz beer

But you’ll notice that maybe none of our drinks conform to that exact template. It’s all about taste and iteration, and balancing the individual flavors against each other. Beers are complex on their own, and getting them to taste right with other ingredients is nuanced. You cannot even rely on any one IPA to taste exactly like another; one might have more of a grapefruit flavor, and another might taste more like pine. That’s why you have to know your ingredients.

west indies

West Indies
1.5 oz Dark Rum (Doorly’s)
.75 oz Falernum
.25 oz Lime Juice
Dash of Orange Bitters (Scrappy’s Seville)
2 oz ipa (Ninkasi Total Domination)
Shake all but beer and double-strain into a goblet. Top with IPA.

For our second variation, and more on a lark than anything else, we wanted to try the IPA with rum and falernum. There was no deep thought behind this choice, but sometimes, the best drinks are extemporaneous. By now, I think we are all familiar with the combination of rum, falernum, and lime. It’s hard to screw that up. We kept the lime short and let the IPA do most of the balancing against the sweeter ingredients. It worked like a charm.

Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you next year!


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Mai Ta-IPA

Happy Thursday! I hope you had a great fourth of July. After all that time in the heat, it’s time to cool down with one of my favorite drinks, the Mai Tai.

When I encountered this variant from Jacob Grier, I knew that I had to try it. I diverged slightly from his formulation, in that I used the traditional Mai Tai garnishes of mint leaves and a smashed half lime, whereas he used a cherry. I also used a shorter glass, because I wanted to highlight the experience of inhaling the aroma of the garnish.

For the IPA, We (that is, I and my usual confederates) decided to use Dogfish Head’s 90 Minute IPA, and I took the opportunity to use the last of the Orgeat from last week.

Mai Ta-IPA

1 oz El Dorado white rum (Cruzan)
1 oz El Dorado 8 year aged rum (Matusalem Clasico 10)
1 1/2 oz IPA (Dogfish Head 90 Minute)
1 oz lime juice
3/4 oz Orgeat (Homemade)
1/2 oz Orange Liqueur (Clement Creole Shrub)

Shake all but IPA over ice and double-strain over fresh ice. Top with IPA and garnish with mint leaves and a smashed half-lime shell.

I was drawn to this recipe because I thought the IPA would be an unusual way to add bitterness to a drink that relies on citrus to be sour and bright. I have lost untold hours of sleep looking for a way to combine bitterness and sourness in interesting ways, and the sad truth is that these types of flavors don’t play all that well together. IPA accomplishes this marriage effortlessly, by combining the sourness of fermentation with the bitterness of hops.

To be honest, I didn’t care for the beery sourness of this drink on top of the other flavors in the Mai Tai — but then, when it comes to Mai Tais, I am a bit of a purist. This was actually the first drink I have mixed with beer, and while it won’t be the last, it will probably be the last for a while. I enjoy fine beers, but beer and spirits together rarely suit my personal taste. Even so, it was a fun experiment.