Fruit beers often lead to a skeptical frown. A reaction that sometimes might certainly be justified. But there are also very traditional exceptions that have an indispensable place in the wide range of beers in the world due to their unique flavor profile. But how do they perform in cocktails? I want to go further into that question by a specific example today.
The Cherry Ale Sling not only sounds coincidentally similar to the world-famous Singapore Sling, it also offers a similar aroma profile as its renowned namesake. But at first glance the cocktail might be a little unconventional: Belgian cherry beer (Kriek), sloe gin, a touch of licorice … this flavor combination immediately aroused my attention. I’ve always loved cherries while Sloe Gin is a very beautiful spirit that in the wake of the global gin boom of recent years fortunately is commonly available today. The combination of both dark fruits promises to turn out as naturally strong fruit fireworks. Nonetheless the Cherry Ale Sling is actually not really sweet. I got to know this drink once again by browsing through the recipes inside the book “Cocktailian – Bier & Craft Beer”. It goes back to Atalay Aktas from the Schwarze Traube Bar in Berlin.
In the Cherry Ale Sling the Belgian cherry beer Kriek is used as a filler, a barrel-matured Lambic in which fresh cherries have macerated during the creation process (in this article I have written a little bit about Lambics). The sweetness of those beers is usually quite restrained. It is therefore not really comparable to a Berliner Weisse mit Schuss (which in the US by the way is taken as a veritable beer cocktail “with a German twist”) or similar creations. The Sloe Gin of course brings along the fruitiness of the blackthorn but also offers the typical floral tones of the gin and thereby adds additional depth to the drink, particularly in conjunction with the dry Sherry that is also used in the drink. But the secret star inside the Cherry Ale Sling are the licorice Bitters, which harmonize absolutely perfect with the cherry flavor and therefor turn out to be really indispensable.
In contradiction to the usual order while preparing a drink with egg white, while mixing the Cherry Ale Sling a “dry shake” is done after the shaking on ice. You do this in order to get a very extensive and voluminous foam ontop of the drink after filling it up with Kriek.
2 cl Sloe Gin
2 cl dry sherry
1 egg white
1 Dash Bitters licorice
Kriek (about 7cl)
Preparation: Shake all ingredients except the cherry beer / Kriek vigorously on ice for about 15 seconds. Then strain and shake vigorously again, this time without ice. Now strain everything through a tea strainer into the pre-chilled glass and fill up with cherry beer / Kriek.
Buying Sources: Sloe Gin and Kriek can be found in respective stores or online. In Belgium Kriek of course will be available in any supermarket. Liquorice Bitters are usually only available online or in specialized stores for bar stuff. A quality dry sherry can be bought in well-stocked supermarkets. In Spain and Portugal, however, pretty much on every corner.