Watch out for that foam volcano, though.

By Margaret Eby
August 12, 2019
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I'm all for a fancy cocktail. There is a kind of delight in going to a tiki bar and guessing how many tiny garnishes are going to festoon your drink of many rums, or being presented with a meticulously made house special. But fancy cocktails aren't an every day occurence for me because of their expense, both in terms of money and in terms of the hangover they tend to extract the following day. More often, I'll go for what I think of as a beach cocktail, which is to say, some other things dumped into a can of neutral-flavored, cold beer that make it just a little bit fancier. 

A beer cocktail usually requires some ingenuity and a cheap cold Pilsner, usually in a can for the sake of portability, but sometimes in a glass bottle too. This category includes Corona, Budweiser, Coors, Modelo, Miller High Life, and, yes, Natural Light. Heneiken or Rolling Rock are kind of pushing it, in terms of having a bit more of a robust flavor, but use what you've got. Avoid IPAs, stouts, sours, saisons, and any beer that would be delivered to you in a fancy goblet in a brewery. You want a canvas that's sort of neutral and not a huge flavor bomb.

From there, you can do all kinds of things. Add lime juice, hot sauce, and salt and you have a makeshift michelada. Add lemon juice and Aperol and you have a spaghett. Add grapefruit juice, tequila, and lime juice and you have a Grapefruit Beergarita. All these are very worthy options for patio sipping, or even for a take-along picnic cocktail. But by far the simplest, lowest effort "cocktail" I've had in my rotation is this: Just add salt to your beer. 

I'm not talking here about Beer Salt, the flavored Texas-based salts that I'm also a big fan of. I'm just talking about plain old salt. I keep a small tin of flakey salt in my purse at all times for emergency seasonings, because that's the kind of watches-too-much-Top-Chef person I've become, but any old salt will do. Add a pinch to your beer and you'll find that it enhances the taste of whatever neutral beer you have. Lemon or lime juice is great too, but if you don't have that, don't worry about it. 

What you do have to worry about is that salt will make your beer foam up something fierce, so it's best to drink about a third of it before adding salt. Apparently the addition of salt encourages carbon dioxide bubbles to cluster together and foam up, and if you aren't careful you've got a third grade science-project volcano on your hands. But with that caveat aside, salting your beer, particularly if it's otherwise not a strongly flavored beer, well, it's not exactly a cocktail, but let's call it a hack. A good one, and an easy one, too. 

 

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