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?
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.