She Wore Black Velvet: Why the Beer Cocktail is Here to Stay

Jack Hughes 7 May 2019
Photo Credit: Flickr

Many people, and I count myself in this misdemeanour, have judged beer cocktails to be a new-fangled hipster fad – what everyday product will they ruin for us next in their quest for artisanal innovation? To start with, the combination of beer with anything else at all petrified me – I was that person who saw a shandy as a little too froofy – but then I understood the method behind the madness of those moustached fob-watch carriers. All too often, beer has been relegated to second-class status, us beer drinkers cautioned against getting involved in the creative mystique of the cocktail kings and queens or the wine hoi polloi. Beer is beer, plain and simple. Just like the ‘men’s men’ who are supposed to drink it.

What a load of old tosh! Beer is complex, difficult to pin down, and most importantly, versatile. A good bottle of quality IPA rivals any glass of Châteauneuf-du-Pape; anyone ‘serious’ about drinking will shudder at this comparison, but it’s simply a case of alcoholic snobbery. Why then, Jack, do you wish to engage in the faddish quest for beertail perfection promulgated by the vegan waistcoat warriors? Well, they’ve hit the nail on the head. Mixing beer with other alcohols is genius – the differing tones of the infinite variety of ales makes tasting a pleasure, as the savoury depth of beer is the perfect counterpart to sweeter alcoholic elements. What is more, I am thrilled to see beer acquiring the recognition it deserves, as it is being pulled out of toxic ‘lad culture’ and is being given the mass appeal it deserves  – here’s to the tinny and the many things it can do!

Below you’ll find five wonderful beer cocktails that are sure to have you wondering whether you too should move to South London to start up a microbrewery from an abandoned warehouse (shabby chic is still in, apparently…):


Black and Tan

This cocktail is popular not only for its stratified aesthetic appeal but also the combination of tastes – the first gulp is not like the last! To make this simple cocktail, fill a pint glass halfway with pale ale, and then float Guinness (or any other dark stout of your choice) on top by slowly pouring it over the back of a spoon to fill the glass. Serve and enjoy!


Black Velvet

The Black Velvet is a beer cocktail composed of stout and white, sparkling wine (normally champagne).  The drink harks back to 1861, when the bartender of Brooks’s Club in London created the beverage to mourn the death of Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert. Simply fill a champagne flute halfway with chilled sparkling white wine and float stout beer (Guinness would be great) on top of the wine. There’s nothing like the death of a Prince Consort to liven up a party!



A Michelada is a Mexican beer cocktail, known there as a ‘cerveza preparada’, that is also popular the length and breadth of Latin America. This spicy drink is perfect for long, hot summer days – Cancun in a glass! This wayward relative of the Bloody Mary begins with a spicy rim: mix 1 tsp each of salt, chilli powder and black pepper on a plate, wipe the rim of a glass with a slice of lime and roll it in the spice mix. Next, add ice, the juice of ½ lime and 3 shakes of hot sauce to the glass, then top up with Mexican lager.


Coupe de Ville

In a cocktail shaker, combine 15ml each of tequila, orange juice, lime juice and ½ tbsp of orange liqueur (Gran Marnier or similar), and shake vigorously. Strain into a beer glass and top up with a pale ale.


Bull’s Eye

For this thirst-quenching cocktail, combine the juice of three limes with 1 can each of light beer and ginger ale in a pitcher. Stir in 2 tbsp of white sugar. Decant into a glass and enjoy!