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Cheers! Beer in a Tiki cocktail to celebrate the last days of summer

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
This Tiki cocktail includes a Michigan spirit and a Michigan beer.
Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
Tammy Coxen using her vintage Ice-O-Mat ice crusher.

It’s after Labor Day, but the weather has been pretty hot in Michigan. The Cheers! team of Tammy Coxen and Lester Graham are not thinking about apple cider and fall cocktails just yet.

“Because it’s been so hot, I thought I’d take us in a Tiki direction today,” Tammy said as she was grinding ice in a vintage contraption (more on that later).

She’s been researching beer cocktails for an upcoming Tammy’s Tastings cocktail class. Beer might not be the first thing you think about in a fruity Tiki cocktail.

“These hoppy IPAs (India Pale Ales) have some really citrusy notes. Some even have a kind of pineapple-y kinds of notes,” Tammy explained.

The cocktail is called Strange Brew. The story goes that a couple of bartenders out on the West Coast had a keg with just a little bit of IPA left and they wanted to use it up.  “Oh! Let’s put it in a cocktail!” Sometimes that phrase leads to disaster and sometimes it leads to another really tasty cocktail.

In her research for beer cocktails, Tammy bought a variety of new-to-her Michigan beers. She decided to use a New England style IPA called Dawn of Vim from Brewery Vivant in Grand Rapids (We visited there last year. Here’s the story).

There’s also a Michigan spirit in Tammy’s interpretation of the Strange Brew. She chose a gin called Ginstache from Rusted Crow Spirits in Dearborn. Ginstache is a play on “gin stash” which was common to have during Prohibition.

The distillery was founded by a tattoo artist and the labels on the bottle reflect that art background.

“It features a guy with a fantastic moustache,” Tammy noted.

Strange Brew

Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
The Strange Brew in a Tiki mug. You can use an old fashion or high ball glass if you're short on Tiki mugs at your place.

2 oz gin
3/4 oz Velvet Falernum
1 oz pineapple juice
1/2 oz lemon juice
2 1/2 oz IPA
Garnish: mint sprig
Combine all except beer in shaker with ice. Shake, strain into highball glass or tiki mug containing beer. Fill with crushed ice. Garnish. 

About that crushed ice. Rather than drag out the big electric ice crusher for one cocktail, Tammy uses a vintage Ice-O-Mat with a hand crank. She tried one of the plastic ice crushers you can find on the shelf in the appliance aisle. Her experience is that the plastic breaks and the steel rusts. She says you can find a sturdy 1950s or 60s era Ice-O-Mat on eBay or other such sites.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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