High-proof liquor is usually the main ingredient in a mixed drink, but the lesser-known category of beer cocktails bends the traditional definition. It’s a little-known fact that many of Charlottesville’s bartenders regularly mix up beer cocktails. These are often made for themselves or friends who are in the know, but rarely appear on a formal menu. We decided to ruin the secret by asking bartenders at three different bars in Charlottesville to share their favorite off-the-menu beer cocktails.
Chris Kyle, manager and bartender at C’ville-ian Brewing Company, blends in orange juice to make a surprisingly refreshing “beermosa,” which is an off-duty favorite among the staff.
“A beermosa is similar to a mimosa but instead of using a sparkling champagne we use a hefeweizen,” Kyle says. “When I tried it with our hefeweizen, which has a lot of pineapple notes in it, this was like combining peanut butter and jelly.”
LW’s Livery Stable, just off the Downtown Mall, is well-known for its signature Moscow mules served up in traditional copper cups. But by special request, patrons can order a beer-based version. “We call it the working man’s mule,” says bartender Ian Dugger. “We use a can of German radler [beer] blended with Bombay Sapphire gin and lemon juice.”
Perhaps the most complex beer cocktail in town is the Banana Boat, made by Christian Johnston at Tavola in Belmont. “The cocktail uses the banana esters of a nice saison,” says Johnston. “I use a white rum that’s been infused with cocoa shells and Chinese five-spice. I mix in a little passion fruit, Dolin Blanc, which is a vermouth, with a little lime, topped off with some Pale Fire saison.” The result is a rich, complex and aromatic drink that isn’t on the menu.—Jackson Landers