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updated: 7/1/2014 12:37 PM

American craft brews mixing up the cocktail scene

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  • Rickey Brew Cocktail

      Rickey Brew Cocktail
    Associated Press

  • Black Cream Cocktail

      Black Cream Cocktail
    Associated Press

  • The Rickey Brew, right, and a Black Cream Cocktail, are two examples of how to use American craft beers as a mixer.

      The Rickey Brew, right, and a Black Cream Cocktail, are two examples of how to use American craft beers as a mixer.
    Associated Press

By Michael Felerbaum, Associated Press

Cocktail connoisseurs are falling for craft beers in a new way -- as a mixer.

Bars around the country are tapping into the trend of mixing artisanal brews with hard liquor to create new, refreshing cocktails. Can't see how it works? How about a bold stout blended with white chocolate liqueur? Or maybe a mojito made with blonde ale and rum?

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Beer as a mixer isn't new, but it has seen an uptick in recent years, fueled largely by the flourishing market of excellent craft beers, according to bar consultant Jacob Grier, who's publishing a book on beer cocktails next year called "Cocktails on Tap."

Beer is a versatile ingredient that "offers tons of different possibilities that you wouldn't get in other mixing spirits," he says. For example, malty or fruity beers add a sweet element to a cocktail, hoppy beers add bitter and floral notes, and stouts can add a chocolate or roasted flavor.

Here are a couple of craft cocktail recipes for your July Fourth festivities. They would be a fine way to celebrate your freedom from plain-old light beers.

Reach out to Michael Felberbaum on Twitter @MLFelberbaum.

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