Beer makes a splash in Toronto’s cocktail scene
Move over, old Red Eye, there's a new brew in town. Although beer has been used as a cocktail ingredient in old faithfuls like Black Velvets and Boilermakers, as well as the lesser known Bière Flambée mixtures from Europe, only now is it starting to shine on Toronto's cocktail lists. Attributed partly to both a broadening public interest in mixology and the diversity of flavours now available from a myriad of craft breweries, beer is making quite a splash with the city's cocktail enthusiasts.
Frankie Solarik, award winning mixologist of Queen West's Barchef, notes that the lively effervescence and herbaceous complexity of many beers offer an inspired bartender a lot to work with. Solarik currently includes beer in one of his featured cocktails, the “Jimmy Cliff,” which boasts a delicate, unmistakably hoppy “gingerbeer” foam. He admits he's entertained special requests for beer mixtures in the past. His guideline for a tasty beer concoction? “As with any cocktail, harmony is key.”
Noted Toronto-based beer writer Stephen Beaumont also stresses the importance of maintaining a certain equilibrium when mixing with beer, using other components to “add to the flavour of the beer in a way that maintains its integrity, while crafting a drink that is not necessarily better, but different.” Does he think that beer cocktails could break the mould to become Toronto's next big beverage trend? “So long as we have mixologists working in creative ways, beer will have its place at the cocktail bar. We're just starting to experience the cocktail renaissance in Toronto, so I'd say we still have quite a ways to go.”