Saturday, July 9, 2011

milwaukee monk

This month's Mixology Monday theme, "Beer Cocktails" (MxMo LIX) was my choice. Since beer has played a role in mixed drinks throughout the ages from Colonial drinks (and before) up until present day modern mixology, my challenge was to find or concoct a drink recipe that uses beer as an ingredient. For a more in detailed history and rationale for this choice, please see my announcement post.

While I did concoct a drink recipe during the recent beer-themed Mixoloseum Thursday Drink Night, I decided that I would post on that one later. Instead, I opted to seek out a recipe that I saw on a menu. When I was at Estragon here in Boston, bartender Sahil Mehta showed me a list of beer cocktails that he assembled for Beer Week. The one that is regularly on Estragon's menu, the Starbird, seemed most appealing at the time especially as a match to the Spanish tapas we were eating. However, one of the drinks on that list, the Milwaukee Monk, intrigued me. When I emailed Sahil about it, he described that it was based on a drink at Coppa that he read a Twitter message about last year. The tweet only mentioned that the drink had Miller High Life and Chartreuse. The idea stayed in Sahil's head, and he created his own beer cocktail based on those details. After he was done tinkering around with the recipe, his drink contained Miller beer, Green Chartreuse, lime juice, and orange bitters.

A short while after emailing him, Sahil was able to locate Coppa's drink online, and it was the Coney Island Strong Man. This drink was contained Miller beer, lemon juice, and both Green and Yellow Chartreuse. When I spoke to Corey Bunnewith, the first bar manager at Coppa, on Monday, he described how Coppa general manager Courtney Bissonnette had created the Coney Island Strong Man. Courtney apparently built the drink around the glass, a pint glass with a muscly forearm for a mug handle, for Coppa's brunch menu.
Instead of picking one or the other of these two beer cocktails, I decided to make both. First, they both seemed tempting. And second, the concept of a game of bartender telephone intrigued me. Sahil only remembered two of the ingredients and when all was said and done, the end results were rather different. I will start with the original first:
Coney Island Strong Man
• 1 oz Green Chartreuse
• 1 oz Yellow Chartreuse
• 1/2 - 3/4 oz Lemon Juice (3/4 oz, see note below)
• 1 pony Miller High Life (7 oz)
Shake Chartreuses and lemon juice with ice and strain into a pint or Collins glass. Add beer, and top with ice cubes. I garnished with a lemon wheel. Note: I found 3 recipes online for this drink with two different volumes for lemon juice; I opted for the one that was repeated twice and also fit my drier aesthetics.
The Coney Island Strong Man began with a lemon and beer aroma. The lemon continued on in the sip where it was joined by a grassy sort of note. Next, the swallow provided a Green Chartreuse flavor that was rather mellowed out by the volume of beer. The Yellow Chartreuse was a bit lost in the drink, but it donated a noticeable degree of sweetness to the balance.
Milwaukee Monk
• 2 oz Green Chartreuse (1 1/2 oz)
• 1 oz Lime Juice (3/4 oz)
• 1-2 dash Regan's Orange Bitters (1 dash)
• 12 oz Miller High Life (9 oz)
Shake all but the beer with ice and strain into a pint glass for a full-sized recipe or a Collins glass for the 3/4 scale version I made. I opted for a lime wheel garnish.
The Milwaukee Monk began with a lime and Green Chartreuse aroma akin to the Green Ghost. The lime next appeared in the sip where it paired with the beer's malt notes. Finally, the swallow was a pleasing combination of the Green Chartreuse and the beer's hops; in addition, the orange bitters added a bit of brightness to the mix.

In comparing and contrasting the two, the Coney Island Strong Man was more like a herbal lemonade or Shandygaff and the Milwaukee Monk was more like a fizzy herbal elixir. Even with the higher amount of lemon juice, the Coney Island Strong Man was a sweeter drink, and the Milwaukee Monk possessed a more refreshingly crisp and tart balance. Overall, the Milwaukee Monk was a better drink for my tastes, but the Coney Island Strong Man was much more drinkable of a potation.

Usually I wrap up Mixology Monday posts by thanking the host, but since that is me, I will instead graciously thank Sahil Mehta, Courtney Bissonnette, and Corey Bunnewith for their recipes and assistance in writing this post. And for Paul Clarke for running the brewery and allowing me a chance to pick the theme this month!


Mackenzie Wheeler said...

Excellent cocktails there Fred! I couldn't help but make 2 cocktails as well. Great theme by the way. Check out what I concocted this month...

Anonymous said...

I (Sunny&Rummy)submitted a post-midnight stealth cocktail on the eG forum, frederic. Thanks for hosting. . . I'm looking forward to the roundup.

frederic said...

Not so stealth -- I've been watching that thread once or twice a day! Thanks for your participation. I'm shooting for getting the wrap-up post out on Wednesday and the eGullet crew will be represented.

Anonymous said...

Hi Fred, it's Lesley at 12 Bottle Bar here. A belated thanks for hosting and I really like how you did the two drinks to play up their differences despite similar ingredients.