The Perfect Fall Drink Is a… Beer Cocktail?

Hot summer afternoons are the perfect occasion for beer cocktails—shandies, micheladas, you name it. But just as there’s a style of beer for every season of the year, there’s a beer cocktail for every season, too. At Elixir, the historic saloon-meets-cocktail bar in San Francisco, you’ll find two on the autumn menu, each incorporating fall flavors while still as drinkable as any other beer cocktails you’ve tried.

The lighter of the two, “My Bavarian Cousin,” created by Natalie Lichtman, builds on a substantial base of Bulleit rye with both lemon and grapefruit, with a good pour of wheat beer Hefeweizen. Together the crisp grapefruit and wheat beer create a shandy that balances the rye’s spicy notes, with the cocktail picking up a further warm autumn spice from a sparing measure of St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram, along with a grating of fresh nutmeg on top.

“It’s a perfect San Francisco fall drink,” says Elixir’s proprietor, H. Joseph Ehrmann. October is often the sunniest month of the year in the city. “Bright and sunny, but still with warm spice notes.” 

“Boot Black the Pirate,” designed by Dan Burns, comes off as richer and brawnier. Starting from a base of the amaretto Disaronno, it’s boozed up with a short pour of the luscious 138-proof Plantation OFTD overproof rum and balanced with lemon juice. Finally, a pour of stout is floated on top, creating a two-toned effect. “It’s a great combination, with the funk of the Jamaican rum and the chocolate and toasted nut flavors of the stout,” Ehrmann says, “along with the nutty Disaronno.”

Either is perfect for those evenings where you’re after something a little more substantial than your summer go-tos, but not quite ready to bring on the hot toddies—which is to say, right now.

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My Bavarian Cousin (top)

Elixir uses Erdinger Weissbier for this drink, but any good Hefeweizen will work. 

2 ounces Bulleit Rye

1/4 ounce St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram

1/2 ounce lemon juice

1/2 ounce grapefruit juice

1 1/2 ounces Hefeweizen

Grated nutmeg

Instructions: Combine all ingredients except beer and nutmeg in a footed cocktail glass or a highball glass. Add ice and stir to incorporate. Top with Hefeweizen, Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.

Boot Black the Pirate

An ounce and a half of Disaronno is… a lot of Disaronno. But when cut with overproof rum and balanced by bitters and lemon, it’s a great base for a fall cocktail. Elixir uses their own “Boot Black” stout, made for them by nearby Standard Deviant Brewing; feel free to swap in your own favorite.

1 1/2 ounces Disaronno Amaretto

1/2 ounce Plantation OFTD overproof rum

1 ounce for float

1/2 ounce lemon juice

2 dashes Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters

Instructions: Combine all ingredients, except the stout for the float, in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled. Strain into a double rocks glass full of fresh ice. Gently pour stout on top, so that it floats. Garnish with a lemon twist.

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