A simple blend of Byrrh (a fortified aromatized wine similar to a sweet vermouth with quinine), Crème de Cassis (a black currant liqueur), and soda water, the Byrrh Cassis was among a number of light aperitif style cocktails that were in vogue in Europe during the early 20th century, especially during the spring and summer months. Unlike the American cocktail tradition, these European concoctions veered toward the lighter side, both in terms of booze and body. While we were taking the European vermouths and other fortified, aromatized wines and using them to bolster and complement hard alcohol, Europeans were featuring them front and center in drinks.
Using this lighter style of cocktail as the format, Jim Meehan created the Beer Cassis as a variation on the classic. Although PDT now stocks Byrrh, necessity may have originally been the mother of this invention as Byrrh was probably unavailable in 2008 when Meehan created this drink. Instead, the very similar Dubonnet Rouge was used in the place of Byrrh, and beer was used in place of soda water to slightly increase the proof, add some depth and body, and provide some clever word play in the process.
1 oz. Dubonnet Rouge
0.25 oz. Theuriet Cassis
6 oz. Brooklyn Brewery Local 1 Beer
Lemon twist, garnish
Tools: barspoon, mixing glass
Glass: chilled white wine glass
Method: Add the first two ingredients in a mixing glass and briefly stir with ice to chill. Strain into a chilled white wine glass and top with the beer. Add a lemon twist as garnish.
While the Byrrh Cassis is light bodied and ideal for when the heat starts to creep, the spice and herbal components of the Brooklyn Local 1 make the Beer Cassis a more complex drink with much more body, making it an ideal late summer/early fall drink to help you make the seasonal transition.
*This post is part of a series in which Payman takes on the task of making and writing about every cocktail featured in the PDT Cocktail Book, as well as providing an awesome photo of each drink taken by Vanessa Bahmani Photography.
**Got a question? He can be found on twitter @paystyle, you can email him at email@example.com, or simply drop him a comment below.