Internationally famous mixologist Claire Smith was in town last week for a one-night-only cocktail pairing dinner at Reef. If you aren't familiar with Smith and her unusual approach to cocktails, you can check out her recent appearance on The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien (yes, before it was unceremoniously cancelled) in which you will either fall in love with her or narrow-mindedly place her in the "douchey" camp of bartenders intent on elevating their craft by referring to themselves as mixologists. (I'm in the first camp, FYI.)
As if a cocktail-pairing dinner wasn't unusual enough, Smith -- who is currently working for Belvedere Vodka as a brand ambassador -- served up a beer cocktail with the second course that blew me away.
Although Smith calls her cocktail a "Cervesa Preparada," most Texans will see that name and instantly think of a michelada. What she served up was more akin to a shandy: beer with an additional citrus component, in this case Belvedere's newest product, a pink grapefruit-flavored vodka. Conscious of her Houstonian audience, Smith prepared the shandy with Saint Arnold Wheat, but you could also prepare it with a hefeweizen like Blue Moon.
The cocktail was light, refreshing, slightly sweet and slightly citrusy with just a slight bubbly kick from the beer. In other words, it's an ideal summer cocktail. It'll be on the cocktail menu at Reef for a limited time, but in case you'd rather make it yourself at home, here's the recipe from our friends at FOOD & WINE:
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- 2 ounces Belvedere Citrus
- 1/2 ounce passion fruit syrup
- 1/2 ounce lemon juice
- 1/2 ounce Campari
- Dash egg white
- Dash simple syrup
- 2 ounces Saint Arnolds Wheat beer
Add all ingredients except Saint Arnold Wheat beer to a cocktail shaker and shake hard over ice. Strain into chilled 6-ounce Collins glass, top with 2 ounces beer, stir gently and serve.
The recipe above makes one serving, but you'll want to make it in bulk for the summer. And if you don't want to use storebought passion fruit syrup, Epicurious has a simple and delicious recipe you can make at home.