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Beer and Wine, Mixing Them's Fine

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BEER WINE
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I see nothing wrong with mixing your drinks. To be honest, the headache you're dealing with isn't because you've had wine then beer then whisky, it's because you've had wine and beer and whisky (with a couple of cheeky tequilas thrown in for good measure). It's excess, not the booze's fault.

Perhaps it's the actual mixing of the drinks that's an issue? For obvious reasons I'm quick to defend something that's both my profession and one of my favourite pastimes. Mixing drinks makes perfect sense to me; I have my own tastes (and they vary; I'm as faddish as a pregnant lady) and adjusting commercial products to my preferences is an enjoyable game on so many levels.

Of course, I could have a go at producing my hooch (literally) from scratch. This way I could tailor it entirely to my tastes. To be honest, fermentation is a simple and ancient process (and legal), but believe me, getting good results, consistently, is a very tough game. I salute those producers who do so, and it is the reason we buy the fine brands we do on a daily basis. However, I do recommend having a go at homemade wine, beer or cider at some point- I'll cover that in more depth, soon.

But back to my mixed drinks. Sometimes I find that I'll taste something and find it's missing a certain note- perhaps a bit of sweetness in the finish or maybe an extra hint of spice. Given the fact that I recognise this omission (for my palate), it seems strange that I wouldn't add (or remove) something to make my enjoyment of it that bit better.

Now usually, cocktails focus on spirits, but I see no reason why more don't also include wines and beers too. First, there's the lower alcohol content, then there's the idea of changing the occasion in which you might drink them and also, there's the flavours offered by these fine products. I expect that more of you have beer and wine in the house on a regular occasion too. Don't get me wrong, there's some wonderful products that don't need adulterating, but for the occasions where the above reasons ring true, give it a go.

I've been lucky to come across a few others playing in this realm lately. In fact, I have the opportunity to see a whole host of bartenders mix up some wines as part of a competition from the guys at Enotria. I'm very intrigued to see what bartenders from very different backgrounds do with a range of wines as their ingredients. The first round of judging turned up some very different outlooks - from a combination of sommeliers and bartenders - some very different to what I'd do, so I can't wait to see the experiments in full swing.

Similarly, it's brilliant to see the beer world embrace the new consumers of the recent craft beer explosion. Thankfully, the new breweries are not only creating great new brews, they are embracing the cosmopolitan mix of consumers that have taken a shine to their products. Beer cocktails are part of this embrace and not only are there nods to historic, simple beer serves, there are some truly innovative mixes being created that showcase these creations in a new light. I'm excited to be giving my two cents on the matter at Craft Beer Rising.

So what to do at home? Simple really, use your beer or wine (or both!) in a manner you'd use a spirit- focus on the characteristics it has, and make it personal to you: think your wine lacks a plumpness? No problem! Need a whack of citrus in your beer? Easy! Just add ingredients that reflect what you think is lacking (perhaps orchard fruits for plumpness, citrus peels for zestiness...).

There are wonderful aspects to these products that can make them interesting supporting ingredients too- tannins, fizz, yeasty flavours... These are great additions to your cocktail arsenal! And if you think about it in its simplest sense, you can start to infuse your wines or beers to make your own take on a 'vermouth' to create new twists on familiar drinks. Try infusing, reducing on the hob or simply mixing them together. One word of warning though- if it's fizzy, don't stick it in a shaker and rattle away. It's messy.

Dead Cobbler

1 slice pink grapefruit
2 slices orange
15ml redcurrant syrup
2 dashes orange bitters
30ml Death's Door Gin
Brewdog 'Dead Pony'

Gently press citrus slices in bottom of shaker, add the syrup, bitters and gin and give a short shake with cubed ice, dump all the contents into a tall glass and top up with the beer.

Enjoy in the bountiful sunshine (it's coming soon) or conversely, in a Shoreditch basement.

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