Beer Cocktails


Orlando Bartenders Mix Up the Perfect Summer Thirst Quencher

Story and photos by Kristen Manieri / Shot on location at The Woods, Orlando

beersA good beer is a solid choice all on its own. But thanks to the explosion of craft breweries popping up across the nation, an unexpected offshoot has picked up momentum—the rise of the beer-based cocktail.

Chris Brown, executive chef at JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes, and one of Orlando’s only Certified Cicerones, attributes the movement to beer’s ability to play nicely with other drink ingredients. “It can make a cocktail more balanced, and it adds its own carbonation, so there is no need to add a splash of tonic or soda water,” he says. 

“The beer used to be thought of as the secondary ingredient, but because there are now so many flavors and complexities to craft beer, it warrants becoming the forefront of the cocktail, which means you’ll want to play up the nuances that make each beer special. You don’t want to lose any of those things; you want to enhance them.”

For example, Brown might begin with a brown ale and play up its maple and malt characteristics by creating a beer-based Old Fashioned complete with cinnamon syrups and bourbon. “I’d use Cigar City’s Maduro Brown Ale for this,” he says.

It’s a bit of a Wild West out there in terms of combinations. Brown encourages budding mixologists to let their creativity fly and see what happens when they mix their favorite craft beers with everything from liquor and freshly squeezed juices to bitters and even wine or Champagne.

With that advice in mind, we asked members of the Orlando Bartender’s Guild to unleash their whimsy and create a few beer-based cocktails perfect for your next summer gathering.

Tim Bradstreet

Tim Bradstreet


Tim Bradstreet
Siro Urban Italian Kitchen

1½ ounces cucumber juice (see below)

1 ounce gin  

1 ounce fresh lime juice 

2 ounces simple syrup 

Cigar City’s Hopped on the High Seas

Skin and blend a cucumber, then strain to create cucumber juice

Shake all ingredients (except beer) with ice, and strain into tall pint glass with ice. (Do not overfill with ice; leave about 2 inches of head space).

Top off with Cigar City’s Hopped on the High Seas.

Garnish with a cucumber slice.

Amanda Gibbons

Amanda Gibbons


Amanda Gibbons
Citrus Restaurant

Winner of Orlando’s Main Streets Cocktail Competition

1 cup sugar

½ cup fresh lemongrass  

½ ounce fresh orange juice 

3 dashes orange bitters (Bitter Truth or Angostura Orange Bitters)

1½ ounces Death’s Door Gin 

Cigar City Florida Cracker White Ale

Orange peel, for garnish

Mix 1 cup pure cane sugar with 1 cup water, and bring to a boil in a saucepan.

Add ½ cup chopped lemongrass; boil 1 minute.

Cover and let cool for 30 minutes.

Strain into a mason jar.

Mix 1 ounce lemongrass simple syrup, orange juice, bitters and gin in a cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a Collins glass

Top with ice and Cigar City Florida Cracker. Garnish with an orange peel.

Samm Holder

Samm Holder


Samm Holder
The Woods

5 mint leaves 

3 blackberries 

1 ounce Fox Barrel Blackberry Pe
ar Cider Reduction Syrup (recipe follows) 

1½ ounces Death’s Door Gin

½ ounce Art in the Age rhubarb tea liqueur (may substitute brewed black tea for a similar taste)

¼ ounce fresh lemon juice

1½ ounces Cigar City Invasion Pale Ale

Muddle mint and blackberries in a glass.

Add ice, 1 ounce Fox Barrel Blackberry Pear Cider Reduction Syrup, gin, rhubarb tea liqueur and lemon juice

Shake and double strain into a mason jar. 

Top with beer.

Garnish with a mint leaf and fresh blackberry.

Fox Barrel Blackberry Pear Cider Reduction Syrup 

Pour a 12-ounce bottle of Fox Barrel Blackberry Pear Cider into a pot.

Bring to a boil, uncovered, and continue boiling until the liquid is reduced by half.

Turn off heat; add ½ cup sugar, and stir.

Let liquid cool before refrigerating.

Paul Johnsen

Paul Johnsen


Paul Johnsen
Todd English’s bluezoo

1½ ounces American Harvest vodka

½ ounce Barenjager Pear liqueur 

½ ounce fresh grapefruit juice 

1 ounce fresh lemon juice 

Orange Blossom Pilsner Honey Beer  

Mix all ingredients (except beer) in shaker.

Shake on ice, then strain into beer goblet.

Finish with beer and garnish with orange slice.


Beer-Based Drinks According to Chef Jose Gonzalez of Cuba Libre

Turns out Cubans have been creating beer-based cocktails for eons. “We basically mix three major ingredients: beer, ginger ale and lime juice,” says Chef Jose Gonzalez of Cuba Libre of the iconic drink, the Cuban Bul. Using fresh Thai basil from Cuba Libre’s kitchen garden, Gonzalez adds his own twist to the tradition and also swaps in ginger beer and throws in a splash of rum for his Cuba Libre Bul.

“Beer cocktails traditionally have low alcohol content—it’s basically diluting a beer—so these make great cocktails for sipping in the sun,” says Gonzalez, who favors Cigar City Florida Cracker.