The first cocktail ever invented was a beer cocktail. Although the term cocktail will need to be defined as “a beverage made by mixing two or more alcoholic liquids” to come to that conclusion, and legions of cocktail snobs will stand up to debate that with me, I firmly defend the beer cocktail as being the spark that ignited a cultural inferno.
It was the early 1600’s and rum had just been discovered on sugar cane plantations in the Caribbean, after what I’m assuming wasn’t much more than a school-yard dare, when workers decided to taste the fermented mixture of water and molasses. It was such an instant success it quickly became an accepted form of currency. Sailors where given a “rum ration” on long voyages (which gave rise to the popular parring of pirates and bottles or rum, yo-ho-ho). As a way to extend those ration they began to mix rum with beer, water, sugar and whatever else they could find. They called this charming mixture of beer, rum and whatever: Grog. Although the hangover inducing thought of that might not sound so appealing, it’s definitive proof that beer mixology isn’t a new phenomenon.
In fact, beer mixology predates liquor mixology.
At the time, it was out of necesity, beer was cheaper and more abundant than other liquors so it made economical sense. These days, craft beer has a database of flavors that no other liquor can touch. From caramel and molasses to grass and apricots, this is booze that makes sense to mix into your cocktails. Like Ashley, the Queen of Beer mixology, said, “It’s not about improving beer, it’s about improving the cocktail.”