Three Beer Cocktails

Flowers at Tupelo Honey Cafe

I left you with margaritas, and I return with beer cocktails paired with some serious Southern Food. It’s American Craft Beer Week, y’all!

The day I am about to recount for you actually kicked off Charlotte’s Craft Beer Week at the end of March, when the best club in town, the Charlotte Beer Babes, met up for a special beer cocktail brunch.

Three female beer reps from Sierra Nevada, Bell’s, and Terrapin presented their cocktail concoctions while the fine people at Tupelo Honey Cafe served us nothing but the most delicious food.

If cocktails at Tupelo Honey Cafe sound familiar, well, yes, it seems to be something I enjoy. Here we go!

Ovila Saison Cocktail

First up was a Sierra Nevada’s Ovila Abbey Saison mixed with ruby red grapefruit juice and garnished with crystallized ginger and dried mandarin oranges. If the rest of the day was going to involve beer cocktails this delightful, then the rest of the day was going to be gooooood.

To go along with their wonderful beer, Sierra Nevada always has the best stories to tell. For instance, the Ovila Abbey Saison is one of a series of beers made in collaboration with the monks of the Abbey of New Clairvaux in Vina, California. Sierra Nevada’s West Coast headquarters in Chico and Vina about about 20 miles apart. (Sierra Nevada’s East Coast location is roughly two hours from my home base – cue the choir of angels).

Next up was a glass of Oarsman Orange Sangria made with Bell’s Oarsman Ale and plenty of orange juice and liquor (recipe below!). Topped with an orchid, it was hard to argue against this drink as the prettiest cocktail of the day.

Bell's Oarsman Orange Sangria

Goat Cheese Platter

I suppose now is a good time to note that in the midst of all this drinking, food was arriving left and right. This was brunch, after all. From country ham and cheese wontons to fried okra to shrimp ceviche to warm pimento cheese and chips, the food was nothing short of delicious. Pictured here is the pecan-crusted goat cheese with grilled apples, sweet braised figs, and crostini. Do you hear the angels singing again?

Last but far from least was Terrpain’s Liquid Bliss mixed with a healthy dose of amaretto and topped off with whipped cream. The chocolate peanut butter porter is a must-try on its own, but the amaretto takes it to an entirely different level of bliss.

Our final beer cocktail of the day was dessert enough on its own, but I did not complain that it was served with a slice of pie. Brown butter pecan pie with dark chocolate sauce, to be precise. A sweet end to a sweet day. Cheers!

Terrapin Liquid Bliss Cocktail

Bell's Oarsman Orange Sangria
Recipe type: cocktail
Serves: 6 servings
  • 2 cups cold orange juice
  • ½ cup orange flavored liqueur
  • ¼ cup tequila
  • 2 oranges, thinly sliced
  • 6, 12 ounce bottles of Bell's Oarsman
  1. Mix the orange juice, orange liqueur, tequila, and orange slices together.
  2. Pour in three bottles of the beer and stir again.
  3. Cover the mixture and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.
  4. After the mixture has chilled, stir in the remaining three bottles of beer and serve.
For an orange flavored liqueur, consider a triple sec, or go with Cointreau or Grand Marnier.

Option: Add a few springs of rosemary and/or a few springs of thyme to the mixture before refrigerating.

Five Days of Cinco de Mayo: Cilantro-Jalapeno Margarita

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Ahh, Cinco de Mayo. Let’s enjoy a margarita. All you need is some tequila (whoop whoop!) and orange, lemon, and lime juice. That’s it. Just mix your desired amount of tequila* with equal parts of the citrus juices.

For this recipe, you need 2 tablespoons of tequila with 1 tablespoon of each citrus juice. Then add a splash of cilantro-jalapeno simple syrup to enjoy this drink as the delight it is.

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I got my first taste of jalapeno syrup over chicken-and-waffles last summer. My mind wanted to steer clear, but I was glad I tried it. It provided a flavorful heat just like this simple syrup will do if you go gentle with it (i.e. no seeds in the making of the syrup). I think you will find this rendition adds a nice twist to a classic drink.

With that, another year of Cinco de Mayo recipes is in the book, and I leave you with where we started: tequila. Enjoy!

Cinco de Mayo 137_Edited* It’s Tuesday. I suggest you take it easy.

Cilantro-Jalapeno Margarita
Serves: 1 drink
  • For the Cilantro-Jalapeno Simple Syrup
  • 2-3 jalapeno peppers
  • ½ bunch cilantro
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • For the Margarita
  • 2 tablespoons tequila
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons cilantro-jalapeno simple syrup
  • fresh ice
  • margarita salt, optional
  • lime and cilantro for garnish, optional
  1. Prepare the jalapenos by slicing them lengthwise and removing their seeds.
  2. Place the sliced peppers, cilantro, sugar, and water in a pot over medium-high heat.
  3. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally as the sugar dissolves.
  4. Once the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is clear (it will be cloudy at the start), remove it from the hate and allow it to cool.
  5. Strain the syrup into a glass jar and discard the spent peppers and cilantro.
  6. To make a margarita, combine the tequila, citrus juices, and simple syrup in a shaker filled halfway with ice.
  7. Shake to combine, then strain into a glass. To rim the glass with salt, run a slice of lime around the rim of the glass and dip the rim into the salt (before filling it with a margarita, of course).
  8. If desired, garnish with lime and cilantro.
Any unused syrup can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

The drink pictured here is actual a double (4 tablespoons tequila, 2 tablespoons of each juice, etc.). You may find it easier to make this recipe in a batch as well.

Five Days of Cinco de Mayo: Mexican Bean Salad

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If day three’s Cinco de Mayo recipe was the most difficult in this five-day series, I imagine Day Four’s will be the most polarizing. Bean salad? With herbs and citrus? Okay…

Back in March, I posted a quinoa salad recipe that featured black beans and oranges. I promptly received feedback that people were willing to give it a try, but were frankly a bit skeptical about the combination. This bean salad calls on essentially the same flavors but with beans in place of the quinoa.

Both are a dream for someone in search of plant-based protein, and this is a particularly nice addition to a Cinco de Mayo for brunch.

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Now, I know you are out there thinking, “Beans for brunch?” You are just going to have to keep on keeping on with the imagination you just used to accept black beans and oranges are a great combo. I assure you, they truly are a good pair.

Plus, “Beans for Brunch” is just so catchy. The phrase is practically its own hashtag, and one that I am fairly certain is capable of generating a number of off-color jokes. Moving on…

Pull together this recipe for a quick side dish, or let it sit covered in the refrigerator for a day or two so the flavors meld. It is fairly inexpensive, makes a good amount, and holds up well, so I see a future for this at summertime picnics as well. Find your own way to enjoy!

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Mexican Bean and Citrus Salad
Serves: 4-6 servings
  • 1, 15-ounce can black beans
  • 1, 15-ounce can cannellini beans
  • 1, 15-ounce can pinto beans
  • 6 scallions
  • 1 large handful of cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced
  • 1-2 limes, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to season
  1. Rinse and drain the beans.
  2. Trim the scallions and thinly slice the white and light green parts. Reserve the dark green parts for use in another dish or discard.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the beans, white and light green parts of the scallions, cilantro, oregano, orange zest and juice, lime juice, and olive oil.
  4. Toss or stir gently to combine, then season with salt and pepper.
What's up with the 1-2 limes? Why not just pick a number? The original recipe called for the juice of 1½ limes, which drives me mad. What am I supposed to do with a rogue ½ lime? If you like tart, go with 2 limes. If you prefer sweet, use one and let the orange shine through.