You might call beer cocktails the happy compromise between the beer enthusiast and the cocktail drinker. Raffaelo VanCouten, senior mixologist at New York's 675 Bar, recommends using beers with great texture and layers of flavors. "I tend to look for anything unique, with bigger, more interesting flavors — but the key, the challenge, really, is to find a nice balance with the spirit." For that part of the equation, he suggests using spirits like whiskey and gin over something more neutral (like vodka) because they have a more pronounced character.
But his most helpful tip? "What I would recommend is to taste all of the ingredients by themselves — the spirit, the beer, the other flavoring agents — before putting the cocktail together. That way when you do, you can look for all of those individual notes and make sure they're in balance."
For this Giants-themed drink, he combines citrusy Blue Moon beer with peppery rye, blood orange purée, lemon juice, and simple syrup.