Jameson Black Barrel Tries to Reinvent the Beer-and-a-Shot

Having a beer with a shot on the side is a great way to get started on an evening of drinking. It’s the total package of alcohol in just two glasses, the heat and power of the whiskey acting as the yang to the beer’s cool, refreshing yin. While there’s no question that the combination is potent, I’ve always seen it done in a mellow context. The lone publishing assistant popping into the local on the way home, reading a manuscript at the bar as the sun’s last rays filter through the windows. The long-suffering cubicle mates who desperately need a bonding session, but don’t have time for a proper bender. Looking to get trashed? That’s what Jägerbombs are for. This is about easing into the evening. As for the beer and shot, the whiskey tends to vary, but the beer is almost always PBR. Well, the refined palates of Ireland’s Jameson distillery think the combination is in need of an upgrade, and I agree. They came up with a few alternatives, which pair Jameson Black Barrel Select Reserve ($35) against a selection of today’s most interesting beers. I tried them all, and added my own as well. Here’s how it worked out.

Pairing 1: Jameson Black Barrel with Innis & Gunn Irish Whiskey Cask Oak Aged Beer

I just wrote about this beer, which brings together Scotland and Ireland in one bottle. The beer’s a Scottish stout, but it’s matured in oak barrels that previously held Irish whiskey, so the flavors are already married. The pairing is a smooth ride, with the woody spice of the whiskey mixing with the vanilla maltiness of the beer. It feels very appropriate, like cousins meeting at a family reunion.

Pairing 2: Jameson Black Barrel with Brooklyn Dry Irish Stout

I’m a fan of everything that comes from the Brooklyn Brewery, and their Dry Irish Stout is one of my favorites. It’s also extremely well-named: If you like the chewy darkness of a stout like Guinness or Murphy’s but wish they’d tone down the sweet edge, it’s for you. When you pair it with the Jameson Black Barrel, you get a meeting of extremes. Usually the shot comes before the beer, but in this case I like sipping the beer first, then the whiskey. It’s a dry, chalky start with a sweet caramel finish. I love the contrast. Of all the pairings on this page, these are the two farthest apart, like going from a cold pool to a steam room. The flavors start muted and then build to an explosion. Tick tick tick tick boom. 

Pairing 3: Jameson Black Barrel and Sixpoint 3Beans

This pairing feels tropical, and seems to hold the promise of the wildest party. The slight banana note of the whiskey mixes with the coffee flavor of the beer, making you want to get up and move. It’s a dance floor filler.

Pairing 4: Jameson Black Barrel and Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro

As opposed to the Brooklyn Dry Irish Stout, this pairing is as close together as beer and whisky get. It’s perfect harmony, tasting almost the same no matter the order in which you consume it. Each makes the other go down easier. The aroma’s amazing too, like two different types of fine leather. Classy.

Pairing 5: Jameson Black Barrel and Captain Lawrence St. Vincent’s Dubbel Belgian-Style Abbey Ale

This is my contribution to the pairing game, and I’m happy with how it turned out. Abbey ales tend to have an elevated alcohol content and sharp flavor profile, and in this case they work well with the whiskey. The herbaciousness of the beer melds to the bite of the whiskey, making it extra thinky. The combination of the cloviness and fruit notes of the beer with the smokey caramel experience of the whiskey gives it an almost Asian feeling. There’s an exoticism to this pairing. It might not work for the after-work sports bar crowd, but foodies and drinkies into experimenting will find a lot going on. This ought to be on the drinks menu at Spice Market

[Related: BlackBook New York Guide; More by Victor Ozols]

Drink Like the Gangs of New York

Normally, if a bar called itself The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog, as barman Sean Muldoon has, it wouldn’t be very appetizing. But, since Muldoon is paying homage to the notorious New York gang that used make their way through lower Manhattan in the 1860s, the name actually is quite appealing.

Also appealing is the list of 72 cocktails whipped up by head bartender Jack McGarry, who has tended bar at Milk & Honey London, and met Muldoon while working with him at The Merchant Hotel. Many of the drinks garner inspiration from mid-nineteenth century recipes, mainly by the father of mixology, Jerry Thomas. This means their Ale Flip gets Sixpoint Brewery’s cask conditioned “Dead Rabbit” Ale, and their Hot Toddy comes with a twist of pear nectar and mace tincture.

The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog also serves food, which leans toward the English pub style including steak and stout pie, fish and chips, ploughman’s lunch, and Welsh rabbit. All this can be enjoyed in the historic, five-story building complete with mural of the 69th Regiment from the Civil War. You can sit on the ground-floor taproom for beer, oysters, bottled punch, and whiskey; or pick up dried goods in their little grocery in the corner. For cocktails and small plates head up to the parlor on the second floor, just make sure your party is no more than eight people, it’s tiny up there.

For an added jolt of history to your experience, you can take The King of the Five Points walking tour with author Peter Quinn. Each whiskey-fueled tour is private and by appointment only, which you can book through the pub.

Drink Up Brooklyn: Spirits of the Borough

While Brooklyn is known for the hipster side of do-it-yourself artisanal foodstuffs, the small-batch sprits coming out of the borough go beyond cool—and are actually pretty awesome. “Brooklyn spirits are all made in small batches as opposed to most liquor which is produced in mass quantities,” said Brooklyn Shaken and Stirred organizer Sharon Beason. “This lets Brooklyn producers be creative and experiment more while honoring the traditions of making handcrafted spirits.”

Go celebrate local drinking tonight at the event Brooklyn Shaken and Stirred in the Green Building in Carroll Gardens. From 6 to 9pm, $45 gets you drinks made with Brooklyn Gin, Greenhook Ginsmiths, Brooklyn Republic Vodka, White Pike Whiskey, and El Buho Mezcal, which is actually made in Mexico, but imported through Henry Steele Imports in Brooklyn. The drink masters include bartenders from Fort Defiance, Maison Premiere, Pok Pok, and Sycamore. They will also offer up wine from Brooklyn Oenology and Brooklyn Winery, plus beer by Sixpoint Brewery.

But you can’t drink on an empty stomach. While you sip cocktails you can nibble on food by Brooklyn-based restaurants including Allswell, Dressler, and Van Horn Sandwich Shop, to name a few.

“I believe Brooklyn as a whole has taken off, from the arts and culture scene, to restaurants and bars that have placed us on the international culinary map, to the artisanal goods that line the corners of Smorgasburg every week,” said Beason. “Brooklyn is so community-focused and its residents so proud of all things Brooklyn that many only buy and use these products and they tell everyone they know about them.”

So do it, go get your Brooklyn on.

Occupying Capitalism: Sixpoint Brewery Brews “Occupation Ale”

Hopping on the Occupy Anything Consumerism trend, Brooklyn’s Sixpoint Brewery has introduced a hoppy new brew they’re calling  “Occupation Ale.” According to Brokelyn, this topical tipple is a citrus-y and floral amber ale that Sixpoint’s president Shane Welch claims “is not necessarily honoring the people behind Occupy Wall Street."

So if the beer is in no way supporting the occupiers of Wall Street, then I guess it’s merely illuminating how capitalism can sprout and thrive in even the most love-people-not-money environments. Good for them. No matter how much love and sunshine and months spent being unemployed and living in a park, there’s still no denying people need to make a buck.

I’m curious: are the occupiers proudly guzzling this drink? If so, the act would merge amiably with their latest “Street Vendor Project” that attempts to boost the lagging sales of nearby employed food vendors (due to the occupation’s barricades and protests) by asking people (you) to donate to them.