Before the war started many months ago, Magazine Editor Erica Schachne had suggested that I write about some new drinks that our readers can enjoy. Now, with the war still raging, we decided not to wait any longer. Let’s face it: In times of stress, alcohol does help. 

It’s important, though, to set limits. Alcohol can give you a breather, can help provide a moment or two when stress can be controlled or forgotten. But don’t overdo it. Keep your tippling to the level of enjoyment, not oblivion. 

“You’re a beer person; I’m not,” the editor reminded me at the time. “I like wine and cocktails. So when you write about beer, make it also about cocktails.”

I wasn’t sure what the editor meant by this, but after some quick Googling, I discovered that cocktails and beer actually have a long history together.

As a semi-professional beer geek, I naturally recoil at the thought of making beer just an “ingredient.” 

SALTY DOG, a salty-and-sour cocktail made with Opokhmel, a pickle beer from Birateinu, the Jerusalem Beer Center. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

But as I learned, the very varied colors, flavors, and strengths of craft beers make them excellent for cocktail mixers. 

Luckily, I met a professional bartender who knows these ins and outs.

Guy Krieger is the head bartender and co-partner at The Rabbit Hole cocktail bar in Jerusalem; he is truly the face of the bar. Before the war, Krieger was mixing cocktails most every night – often until the last customer left. The bar is still open, even though Krieger was drafted into the reserves. 

“Beer can be as great an inspiration for cocktails as any other ingredient,” he told me back then.

So I challenged him to come up with four different cocktails, using four different styles of Israeli craft beers. I also insisted that the recipes could easily be prepared by our readers.

We met in The Rabbit Hole, joined by Leon Shvartz, owner of the bar and of two other watering holes in Jerusalem – Birateinu (the Jerusalem Beer Center) and the Glen Whisky Bar.

Before we started mixing, Shvartz reminded me that adding other flavors and drinks to beer dates back before modern cocktails were being concocted. 

“For example, some Europeans mixed fresh fruits and juices in their beers. In the 17th century, the British made Black And Tans – light and dark beers poured in the same glass in two layers. 

“Snakebites were equal parts cider and pale lager. Bomb or Submarine cocktails were just a shot of hard liquor – whisky, vodka, or whatever – mixed into beer. 

“There’s also Red Eye: any lager mixed with tomato juice. You could also add salt, pepper, hot sauce, or my favorite, a raw egg!” 

GETTING BACK to our beer cocktails, the first one that Krieger mixed in front of our eyes called for a hop-forward beer, where the bitterness and the flavors of the hops are allowed to shine through. We chose Kabir Hoppy Lager from Six-Pack Brewing (also known as Super Heroes Beer), made in collaboration with the BeerBazaar Brewery in Kiryat Gat. But you can use any hoppy beer, such as an India Pale Ale or an American Pale Ale.

(In the meantime, Six-Pack has issued a new Kabir for this summer known as Hoppy Kölsch, brewed in collaboration with the Schnitt Brewpub in Tel Aviv.)

Hoppy Vacation

This is a summertime cocktail, hence the name.

Pour into a shaker:

40 ml. Suze French Bitters. (Any French or Italian white bitter aperitif can be used. Be aware that most of them are not kosher.)

20 ml. sake rice wine

10 ml. sugar syrup (Krieger used syrup with za’atar)

10 ml. lemon juice

Add ice and shake. Strain into a glass filled with ice. Gently pour in about 50 ml. of the beer and stir slightly.

The result was a very refreshing drink, bitter and grassy, with flavors of herbs, lemon, and za’atar.

“It’s like drinking a summer beer, but with more alcohol,” added Shvartz. “The bitterness gives you the incentive to have another sip.”

OUR SECOND cocktail was based on the Old Fashioned, but with rum replacing the bourbon or rye whisky, and beer replacing the sugar. We chose to use Barley Wine from the Alexander Brewery in Emek Hefer because of its maltiness, rich flavors, and high alcoholic content. 

(Alexander Barley Wine is not on the market anymore, but Israeli-brewed barrel-aged Barley Wines are available from the BeerBazaar Brewery [as part of its OMG series] and the Herzl Brewery in the Tefen Industrial Park.)

Barely Barley

Pour together:

40 ml. spiced rum

2 dashes chocolate bitters

1 dash Creole bitters (Angostura bitters can also be used)

80 ml. Barley Wine

Add ice and mix. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with orange peel.

The Barley Wine is very dominant in this one, bringing maltiness and bitterness, some citrus, and very weak chocolate. Shvartz said it reminded him of chocolate-covered orange peel.

KRIEGER SAID that the next cocktail was in the margarita family, but with gin instead of tequila.

We used an unusual beer brewed by Birateinu itself, called Opokhmel, the Russian word for “hangover cure” (what we call in English “hair of the dog”). It’s brewed with cucumbers, garlic, dill, and salt. It’s a slightly sour beer, available only at Birateinu.

You can replace it with any sour beer, of which a few are brewed in Israel, though you won’t get all of the other flavors.

Salty Dog

Pour into a shaker:

40 ml. gin

15 ml. lemon or lime juice

10 ml. sugar syrup (Krieger used syrup with parsley)

20 ml. Aqua de Bolivia (a liquor from cocoa leaves; Cointreau can also be used)

80 ml. beer

2-3 shakes of salt

Add ice and shake (yes, together with the beer). Strain into a tall glass and garnish with dried lemon.

The beer makes this cocktail more refreshing and less sour than a standard margarita. Tastes of lemon, salt, and grass are in the background.

NEXT UP was a cocktail using a cherry-infused beer. Krieger used Petrus Red from Belgium. You can also use the Alexander Red beer from the Alexander Brewery. Since it is less sweet than the Petrus, you should add some simple syrup to the recipe. 

Cherry Fruity 

Pour into a tall glass:

20 ml. kosher cognac

15 ml. Cointreau

Fill the glass with ice, and top with the beer. Garnish with dried apple.

The beer and cognac add bitterness and fruitiness, while the cherry adds aroma and sweetness. Alcohol by volume is high.

AS MUCH as I enjoyed these four delicious cocktails, I still prefer my beer straight out of the bottle or tap. It’s good to know, though, that this divine beverage, as old as civilization, keeps finding new ways to make people happy. 

The writer is the owner of MediawiSe, an agency for advertising and direct marketing in Jerusalem. He writes a weblog on Israeli craft beers, called Israel Brews and Views, which can be found on Facebook. 

Special thanks to Leon Shvartz for his help in preparing this article.

2024-05-26T05:46:33Z dg43tfdfdgfd