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1–2 July 2024
Olympia London

Top 3 Cocktail Recipes Using Light Beers and Ales

Last issue, our cocktail columnists Jared Brown and Anistatia Miller considered the tradition of using darker beers in cocktails. This time, they take a look at brewed beverages that err on the lighter side…

Last time we waxed lyrical about heady, dark ales, porters and stouts, and their use in cocktails. Now we can’t resist taking you on a tour of lighter, frothier, low-alcohol drinks made with lagers and lighter ales – drinks which also find their origins in Elizabethan times.

A posset was a delectable potion. Hot milk and ale were curdled like yogurt into a thick, lassi-like beverage that was enhanced with ginger and sugar. Its popularity was such that dedicated vessels for mixing and serving possets were devised. Naturally, possets evolved, as did imbibers’ palates. Three centuries later, egg possets made their way into the drinking lexicon. Made with eggs rather than milk, even the ale was replaced by rum and served hot instead of cold.

But while students at Oxford University sipped on spirituous egg possets, the college servants during the 1830s were treated to a luxurious Christmas treat called the Beer Flip. Eggs met beer and sugar in a metal vessel. A red-hot poker was slowly immersed in the liquid to heat it before service. (At some of the colleges, a measure of gin was also added to truly fortify the yuletide festivities.)

The joys of beer-based drinks are not limited to European and British shores. A refreshingly zesty variation on the Bloody Caesar hails from Central and South America. No two Michelada recipes are alike. It seems that every nation and every region offers a different enhancement to the basic beer, clamato juice, and lime juice concoction. Peppers, chamoy, Tabasco, Maggi, fresh orange, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, citrusy annatto powder mixed with salt for the rim are just a few of the customised options that you can try.


Glass: Highball
Garnish: Salt rim
Method: Fill with Clamato followed by sauces. Stir.
Add lager and serve.

3-4 splashes hot sauce
3 parts lager
2 splashes Worcestershire sauce
2 splashes soy sauce
1 part Clamato juice
Juice of one lime

Cask cocktails

We have to admit, however, that our favourite beer drink was crafted by our close friend Pete Jeary, who divined the now ubiquitous Shaky Pete’s Ginger Brew.

A staple on many a menu, it’s hard to beat this palate-pleasing thirst quencher. Gin and homemade ginger syrup are frappéed with a healthy dose of fresh lemon juice and ice. Strained into a frozen beer stein, the mixture is topped with London Pride ale. Does it resound with balance? Definitely. Is it a session drink? Without a doubt.

Want one now? You bet.

Then there was the sweltering summer day when we didn’t have the ingredients to make a Guinness Punch, but we did have the elements to make a Beer Milk Shake. Jared always wanted to experiment with lager syrup, and this was the perfect opportunity to add a healthy dose of dry, hop-filled, low alcohol goodness to a bourbon-laced vanilla milk shake.


Adapted from a recipe by Jared Brown, 2013

Glass: Pint
Garnish: None
Method: Blend all ingredients with a few cubes of ice. Pour into the glass.

50ml really good vanilla ice cream

50ml whole milk

25ml lager syrup

25ml bourbon

Lager syrup: Gently warm Cotswold 3.8 over hopped lager in a small saucepan. Add an equal part of caster sugar. Blend until dissolved. Cool. Add an equal part lager to the mixture.

A-star ale

Our tale has now been told, from dark to light. While we are all looking for low-alcohol and low-sugar solutions to add to our drink menus, leave the sparkling water, sodas and softs behind. It’s time to flex your creative muscles around the wide range of brewed beverages for your next cocktail recipe.


Tony Conigliaro’s passion for all things Japanese has made its way onto a few projects in the past couple of decades. You know the names. Roka. Zuma. His latest foray into the intricacies of the Japanese arts resides in Dalston. Untitled is the name. The zen of mixing flavours is the game. Our favourite is called Amber. Musk vodka and champagne are fragranced with orange blossom honey and neroli. Served over ice in a wine glass, its mystifying delicacy gives one reason to ponder its utter simplicity.

This article was updated from one that was originally published in imbibe live magazine on October 13, 2017