Beer cocktails are an interesting subject. Until recently, a beer “cocktail” would consist of dropping a shot glass of something into a beer and downing the whole mixture before some regrettable chemical reaction takes place. Of course, this reaction taking place within my own stomach isn’t truly avoided, if you think about it. However, there have been exceptions to this, allowing the complexities of the humble brew to shine through the mob of Sake Bombs and Boilermakers. Enter: The Black Widow.
Taking the main stage in The Black Widow is Deschutes Brewery’s flagship brew, the Black Butte Porter. It is a dark and intense porter, but with a well defined creamy feel to it. It is a very enjoyable drink on it’s own, but The Black Widow expands on it’s natural dark chocolaty flavors by adding Fernet Branca, an Italian aromatic spirit with over 40 herbs and spices in it’s secret recipe. It can be equated to something like a bitters, and is often used as such. Lastly, the mixture is topped with a frothy head of vanilla cream foam.
4 1/2 oz. of Black Butte Porter
1/2 oz. of Fernet Branca
The foam is generally a tablespoon of sugar and half a tablespoon of vanilla extract for every cup of whipping cream. This can be made the old-fashioned way with an electric mixer and a bowl, or dispensed from a pressurized whipped cream dispenser. These dispensers have a myriad of uses for the creative mixologist, so this could be the recipe that legitimizes you adding this handy tool to your repertoire.
When I had this for the first time, it was at Cochon 555, an event about heritage breed pigs and sustainable farming. Because of this, many cocktails featured pork or bacon in some fashion, and The Black Widow was garnished with a small piece of dark chocolate covered bacon. The salty sweet bite was a great treat at the end, and I would suggest it if you are looking for a little something to go with this drink. A chocolate covered pretzel may come close for those less keen on pork. However, if you are like me and are hypnotically drawn to all things bacon, it is a terrific little garnish that will find you coming back for another.
Mix the first two ingredients together, the beer at your preferred temperature, and simply top with the vanilla foam. While this drink may lack the bravado of shaking and straining and lighting things on fire, it more than makes up for it in taste. You could fancy yourself a true fan of craft porters, or even of the Black Butte itself, but I promise you this cocktail will put a whole new spin on it. If you’ve never experienced a cocktail like The Black Widow, this will open your eyes to a whole new side of cocktails.
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