On Tuesday, August 22nd DBGB Kitchen & Bar hosted a Booze Brews cocktail event where local bartenders competed for the title of “Best Beer-Forward Cocktail” for DC Beer Week. Admittedly, I am not a big beer drinker. While I appreciate the flavor of nearly any blonde ale, after a beer or two, I honestly feel like I’m pregnant with baby Brewster, often complete with contractions. Ugh, please don’t judge me. Needless to say, my beverage of choice is usually a cocktail.
For DC Beer Week, I was eager to head over to DBGB to enjoy the flavor of the featured beers without the volume. It was truly the best of both worlds, as the cocktail ingredients played a supporting role in letting the star of the show – the beer – shine. In the spirit of competition, I have definitively ranked these “brewtails” based on my palate.
5. Black n’ Shandy – Inn at Little Washington’s Chris Norris & Devils Backbone, VA
Hanger One Buddha Citron Vodka, Fernet Branca, Benedictine, Ginger Beer, Black Lager
Let me preface this by saying I do not love Fernet Branca or black lager so this drink was a hard sell for me. The cocktail had a strong flavor profile with significant depth, but ultimately I couldn’t finish it.
4. Looks Like You Got Some Sun – Iron Gate’s Sam Ward & Founders Brewing, MI
Amaro Vecchio Del Capo, Local Peach-Paw Shrub, All Day IPA
Ward’s cocktail was earthy and easy to drink. With a hint of citrus, it was pretty light. I was honestly surprised it contained an IPA. I would probably order this drink again if given the opportunity.
3. Heart of Stone – The Salt Line’s Donato Alvarez & Brewery Ommegang, NY
Barr Hill Tom Cat Gin, Giffard Pêche de Vigne, Don Cicco & Figli Carciofo, Ommegang Sour Pale Ale
I was very close to ranking this cocktail in second place, which is where it finished in the competition. It was a very difficult decision for me, but ultimately a special element in DBGB’s cocktail pushed it ahead. Garnished with a ripe slice of peach, “Heart of Stone” was well-balanced. Despite the addition of fruit-based ingredients, Alvarez’s drink was savory. This cocktail immediately transported me back to the coast of the Mediterranean. If only!
2. Miracle on H St – DBGB’s Phil Song & Port City Brewing, VA
Chamomile-infused Bar Hill Gin, Pineapple-Peach IPA Shrub, Lillet Blanc, Yuzu, Prickly Pear Bitters, Miracle Berry, Integral IPA
At first taste, this cocktail was fruity yet a bit tart. However, served with a Miracle Berry, the drink gradually turned sweet. It was magic! Song’s cocktail was completely transformative and unique. The wonderful flavor and the surprising experience of drinking this cocktail is still vivid in my memory.
1. A Proper 75 – Le Diplomate’s Kevin Egan & Right Proper, DC
Lemon, sugar, Blue Coat Gin, Kick.Kick.Snare Berliner Weisse
Le Diplomate proved again that it can do no wrong with this surprising twist on a traditional French 75. Sweet without tasting artificial, Egan topped his refreshing cocktail with a candied lemon. While all the cocktails were delicious, “A Proper 75” was miles ahead of the competition for me. Simple, fun, and crave-worthy, I could have ordered this drink all night.
Don’t believe me? Egan’s masterpiece won the battle and will be available at DBGB throughout September for your sipping pleasure!