Detroiter320 Main, Seal Beach, (2012)

Good-tasting beer cocktails understand that beer is already a finished product, then look to enhance and support what’s already there. Same goes for champagne, sherry… hell, even good-quality sipping spirits don’t need an assist from citrus, sugar, or whatnot. But when balanced thoughtfully, beer cocktails work great. And thinking about balance is just what got Jason Schiffer at 320 Main going on one of their most popular original cocktails, the Detroiter. On paper, it doesn’t sound like it will work… but take that first sip and you’ll get it. A balancing act of bitter, sweet, and just enough tartness evoke the fall flavors of apple and spice without tipping into the obvious Pumpkin Spice Latte category.

I asked Jason what inspired this drink, originally called the Michigander and made without the beer component. He says, “I was missing my favorite time of the year back home in Michigan – remembering pumpkin-carving parties my Mom took me to when I was a kid, raking leaves, and making cider from the apples we foraged in nearby orchards. I had this picture in my mind with these nostalgic tastes and smells. Applejack was an obvious place to start, and it only seemed natural to gravitate toward Cynar to mimic the earthy smells of the fall leaves. This original drink was called the Michigander – it starts a little on the sweet side and finishes somewhat drier so it works. Then, the Detroiter was born when a couple guys came in asking for a beer cocktail. We didn’t have one at the time, so I figured the Michigander’s front-end sweetness should stand up to a nice, dry beer. I knew hoppy beers pair well with bitter spirits, so IPA it went. Adjusting the recipe a bit and bringing in the high proof of the bonded Laird’s apple brandy instead of their 80-proof ‘applejack’ zeroes out any possible unpleasant bitterness from the hops and the Cynar.”

The grapefruit twist garnish is essential – its mix of bitter, sweet, and tart echoes what’s going on in the glass and helps it all make sense. To hit the right notes in this drink, look for a good-quality IPA like Ballast Point’s Sculpin, Russian River’s Blind Pig, AleSmith IPA, or if you really like a blast of hops, Stone’s Double Dry Hopped.

THE KIT

Hardware: Jigger, Muddler, Barspoon, Hawthorne strainer (if using Boston shaker), Fine-mesh strainer
Ice: Ice cubes
Glassware: Rocks glass
Spirit: Applejack (Laird’s apple brandy 100 proof)
Mixers: Cynar, Beer (India Pale Ale), Honey syrup (three parts honey mixed with one part hot water)
Juice & Garnish: Lemon juice, Grapefruit twist

HOW TO

In an empty shaker, add:
1 oz Cynar
1 oz beer (India Pale Ale)
3/4 oz applejack
3/4 oz lemon juice
3/4 oz honey syrup
Dry shake briefly to blend and release some carbonation from the beer. Add ice and shake again to chill. Double-strain (to catch small bits of ice and citrus pulp) into a rocks glass over ice cubes. Add an extra:
1 oz beer (India Pale Ale)
Stir to blend. Pinch a grapefruit twist over the drink to express oils onto its surface, then lightly brush the twist around the glass exterior. Garnish with the twist.

You’ll just have to drink the leftover beer, darn the luck.

bloodymaryParis, France (1930s)

Making just one Bloody Mary is a pain in the ass. Even at its simplest (vodka, tomato juice, lemon juice, Worchestershire, horseradish, salt & pepper), it’s pretty complicated. Making a batch of homemade Bloody Mary mix, on the other hand, is fun and easy. Sometimes things work out for a reason: This is a morning drink like no other, and who wants to hassle with a making a drink when you’re foggy in the head and grumpy? Have a batch of this mix on hand in the fridge and you’re good to go.

Most cocktail archaeologists agree this drink started as a simple highball of vodka and tomato juice at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris during Prohibition, where bartender Fernand “Pete” Petiot served these to American expatriates and tourists. On his post-Prohibition stint at New York City’s St. Regis Hotel King Cole Bar, Petiot spiced up the flavor by swapping gin for vodka and adding lemon juice, horseradish, hot sauce, celery salt, and black pepper as a “Red Snapper.” It wasn’t long before people fell in love with this bizarre combination – savory and nourishing with just enough buzz to change your mind about being awake. And of course, as the tide turned mid-century, vodka elbowed out the gin and took back its original spot.

The recipe that follows below is based on Jeffrey Morgenthaler‘s contemporary mix, about as full of flavor as you can get. It’s a fancified and brunch-worthy take on the original. It’ll make about a quart of Bloody Mary mix, enough for eight servings. Batch more if you think you’ll need it – it’ll keep refrigerated for a couple weeks.

The fun thing about the Bloody Mary is its flexibility: Start with this version as a template and feel free to personalize it as you like. Dial the spiciness up or down, add different fresh juices, go crazy with the garnishes. I’ve seen everything topping this drink from a stack of olives to bacon to beef jerky. Even saw one once garnished with a small hamburger, it was ridiculous. Make it with gin instead of vodka for the original Red Snapper, with tequila for a Bloody Maria, with Irish whiskey for a Bloody Molly. Some bars have complete menus of Bloody Mary variations. In Canada, they make this with Clamato (a blend of tomato and clam juices) for a Bloody Caesar.

There’s really only one rule about the Bloody Mary: don’t drink them after sunset. It’s meant to pair with the morning paper and a good long stare out the window while you come back to life.

THE KIT

Hardware: Shaker, Jigger, Electric blender, Sieve, Straw (optional)
Ice: Ice Cubes
Glassware: Collins glass
Spirit: Vodka (recommended: Karlsson’s Gold, Absolut)
Juices, Accents, & Garnishes: Canned tomatoes, whole or diced (recommended: Muir Glen fire-roasted), Lemon juice, Garlic, Avocado, Worchestershire sauce, Steak sauce (recommended: A-1 or HP), Hot sauce (recommended: Crystal or Tabasco), Fresh-grated or “prepared” horseradish (not horseradish sauce), Celery salt, Black pepper, Chili powder (recommended: dried and pulverized New Mexico or Ancho chilis – not powdered chili mix), Lemon wedge, Celery stalk

HOW TO

BLOODY MARY MIX
In an electric blender, combine:
2 14.5-ounce cans tomatoes
1 small garlic clove
1 quarter avocado

Blend well to liquify, then pour into a quart jar and add:
1 oz Worcestershire sauce
3/4 oz lemon juice
1 tsp steak sauce
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp hot sauce
1/2 tsp horseradish
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 cup water

BLOODY MARY
In a shaker filled with ice cubes, add:

2 oz vodka
4 oz Bloody Mary mix

Roll gently (just glide from one side of the shaker to the other – shaking will foam the tomato juice) to blend and chill. Strain into an ice cube-filled Collins glass. Garnish with a lemon wedge and celery stalk. Optionally, serve with a straw.

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Brazil (1750s, give or take)

When it’s too hot to spend more than a minute making a drink, the Caipirinha comes to the rescue (say it “kai-peer-EENyuh”). It’s the national drink of Brazil, made with cachaça (“kah-SHAH-sah”), a sugar-cane spirit much like the rhum agricole they make on Martinique and the other islands of the French West Indies. Where most rums are made from molasses, cachaça and rhum agricole are made directly from pressed fresh sugar cane, so you get all kinds of interesting vegetal, earthy flavors and aromas that aren’t there in rum.

The Portuguese word “caipirinha” means “hillbilly,” and from that you can guess the nature of this drink: a little rough, a little rustic. But so simple and delicious – for those who’ve never tried one, I say it’s halfway between a Margarita and a Daiquiri and they’re sold. Once you’ve made it the original way with lime, anything goes for the muddled fruit: pineapple, guava, tangerine, strawberry, passion fruit, kiwi, grape, mango… in fact, these fruit-laden versions have become more popular in Brazil than the original lime-only version, which is coming to be thought of as “Grandpa’s drink.” But to hell with that, Grandpa knows a thing or two.

Cachaça is Brazil’s national spirit: there are over 5,000 brands available down there. You may have a harder time than the Brazilians do tracking it down if you don’t live near a well-stocked shop… which is why God created Hi-Time. Have some shipped out in time for the next heat wave!

THE KIT

Hardware: Jigger, Muddler, Barspoon
Ice: Cracked ice
Glassware: Rocks glass
Spirits: Cachaça (recommended: Leblon, Sagatiba, Novo Fogo)
Mixers & Liqueurs: Simple syrup
Juices, Accents, & Garnishes: Lime chunks

HOW TO

In a rocks glass, add:

Half a lime, cored and cut into four chunks
1/2 oz simple syrup

Muddle well to express all lime juice and rind oils, then add cracked ice to fill to the rim and:

2 oz cachaça

Swizzle with the barspoon to blend and chill.