Beer can do a lot of things to a cocktail. It can add effervescence, bitterness, or body. You can add it to a flat drink to fizz it up, or substitute the beer in for another ingredient to give it some extra oomph. That’s what we did with this week’s beer cocktail: we took the classic Italian aperitif drink, the Americano, and jazzed it up a bit with some German wheat beer. –Andrew
Wheat Beer Americano
1 oz Campari
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
Add the Campari and vermouth to a highball glass filled with ice, then top with the wheat beer. Give it a stir and enjoy!
The Americano – which we’ve featured here before – is a straightforward drink, matching bitter Campari and herbaceous vermouth and mellowing out those intense flavors with some soda water. It’s a wonderful, and wonderfully Italian, low-proof cocktail, the sort of thing you’d sip while sitting in a piazza in Trastevere while watching the beautiful people stroll by.
But sometimes you want to play with the classics, and substituting a German wheat beer for the soda water adds an extra layer of fruity, spicy flavor, along with a chewy mouthfeel that you don’t get with the original.
We went with a Bavarian Hefeweizen here, one of my all-time favorites, Paulaner. Since the Campari is so bitter and the Americano so herbaceous, we didn’t want to go with a hoppier beer, like an IPA, which could overwhelm this drink with bitterness. Instead, the wheat beer adds fruity notes, especially banana, and lots of spice like cloves. It comes across as sweet in contrast with the rest of the drink. I like to give drinks like this only a gentle stir, incorporating but still leaving all the flavors a little layered. So as you drink this down, it starts out fruity and mellow, and then gets progressively darker and more intense towards the bottom.
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Glassware by Liquorary
Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper