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Drink News Beer Cocktails at North Bar

Who'd've thought it, mixing beer with other drinks can have better results than snakebite and black...

Drink News: Beer Cocktails at North Bar

"Sometimes people are just a bit freaked out by it," says North Bar‘s Mark Cooke as he mixes up six special beer cocktails on a Thursday afternoon. And you can see why. The phrase "beer cocktails" somehow sounds wrong. Mixing beer with other spirits and flavours just isn’t something you do, unless you’re driving and fancy a shandy, don’t like the taste of beer and want a lager and lime or on your rugby team night out and want a snakebite and black.

But then, as North Bar have long proved, there’s more to beer that fizzy, cold flavourless lager, and surely if beer can offer such a wide variety of flavours, then some beers can be used to make interesting (and most importantly tasty) cocktails?

"As a former flair bartender, I wanted to explore what beer could do and try to combine my two loves," says Mark. "We treated it a bit like food matching. So you try to think about flavours, with beer and food matching you talk a lot about melding the flavours together, so we started with that to see where beers could fit with cocktails.

"I think people are a little bit sceptical about it at first, but you start describing the flavours and the ingredients and people really perk up. The idea was just to show what beer can do."

The six beer cocktails available at North (alongside a range of more normal cocktails) certainly show the different flavour profiles available in beer. The Baltic Brooklyn is sweet, mellow and steeped in chocolate and coffee flavours, while the Super Kriek has a blast of cherry bitterness with an underlying sweetness and DABbling draws on some gloriously sweet flavours – apricot and honey with a big malty back drop from the DAB.

"We had a few disasters," says Mark, "but I can’t remember many now. We made a load. There was one that was like a bloody mary made with IPA which was really horrible. It was trial and error, really."

Because some customers are "a bit freaked out" by the idea of the cocktail, it’s not always an easy sell, but Mark reckons that once he’s got customers started, they tend to like what they’ve tried. "What I’ve been saying is ‘I’ll make you it, if you don’t like it, you can trade it for something else’," he explains. "I’ve not had a return yet. But if someone does order a whiskey sour or a daiquiri, I say, ‘do you want to try this beer sour instead?’ There was a girl who had a whiskey sour and I said ‘just for a little bit more, you can try this Weiss & Sour’, she had one and stayed and had two or three more, and then wobbled out."

A number of the beer cocktails are based on more traditional cocktail recipes. Weiss & Sour is a long refreshingly tart drink along the lines of the whiskey sour, with the NYTai is like maltier version of a Mai Tai and the Krimble is based on a bramble, but uses Kriek.



Baltic Brooklyn (£5)

Brooklyn chocolate stout with hazelnut and coffee liqueurs served in a martini glass with a salt rim

NYTai (£5.50)

Brooklyn lager with rum, almond syrups, bitters and lime juice

Krimble (£6)

Kriek mixed with Tanqueray gin and fresh berries

DABbling (£6.50)

DAB beer mixed with apricot brandy, honey liqueur and tequila liqueur

Super Kriek (£6.50)

Kriek, brandy and Chambord

Weiss & Sour (£6.50)

Wheat beer with bourbon, marmalade, lemon juice and bitters, served over ice in a pint glass

Posted on Tuesday 29th November 2011

North Bar

24 New Briggate, Leeds, LS1 6NU

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