Beer cock­tail menu a Na­tional sen­sa­tion

Joint serves up hy­brid drinks in ma­son jars

Calgary Herald New Condos - - Weekend Life - LISA KADANE

What do you or­der at a beer hall if you don’t like beer? A beer cock­tail, of course.

Now, the ob­vi­ous ques­tion is, what are you do­ing at a beer joint if you’d rather be drink­ing a Dark & Stormy? But the new Na­tional beer hall in Cal­gary’s Belt­line is no or­di­nary ale and lager wa­ter­ing hole. For one, it’s a bright open space in­stead of a dark dun­geon. For an­other, it lacks those ubiq­ui­tous pub TV screens broad­cast­ing sports.

Lo­cated on the north­east cor­ner of 17th Av­enue and 5th Street S.W., banks of win­dows let in nat­u­ral light and white brick walls con­trast nicely with the dark wood floors and har­vest tables. Since there’s noth­ing to stare at ex­cept the funky “train sta­tion de­par­tures-style” beer list above the bar, or the bot­tom of an­other empty pint glass, you’re forced to so­cial­ize — an easy task thanks to the com­mu­nal tables.

Na­tional also serves what I’m go­ing to call up­scale pub grub; think duck con­fit pou­tine, Shrimp Louie in a jar (so del­ish) and spicerubbed roast chicken.

“We’ve re­ally fo­cused on the food, not just the beer,” says manag­ing part­ner Jon Molyneux.

So, you can see how Na­tional might ap­peal to the non-beer/non-pub crowd.

Per­haps in an­tic­i­pa­tion of serv­ing this de­mo­graphic, Brad Mor­ri­son, vice-pres­i­dent of Con­corde Group En­ter­tain­ment (which owns Na­tional), asked Model Milk bar­tender Stephen Phipps to help him cre­ate a cock­tail menu. There are only eight drinks fea­tured — com­pared with 70 North Amer­i­can beers on tap, plus a hard cider, non-al­co­holic gin­ger beer and a bunch of bot­tled op­tions — but Na­tional has sold more than 10,000 cock­tails since open­ing in June, says Phipps.

“It’s a big beer hall that’s sell­ing a ton of cock­tails,” he says. “We don’t want to take the at­ten­tion away from the beer; we just want to give peo­ple a dif­fer­ent op­tion.”

I hate to break it to you, but serv­ing boozy guz­zlers in a one-litre Ma­son jar kind of steals the thun­der from a measly pint of beer. And the fact that you can get a litre of mar­garita or Bellini for $15 is prob­a­bly 1 1/2 oz Gosling’s Black Seal rum

1 oz 5 oz ger beer 3 to 5 heavy dashes An­gos­tura bit­ters

Build over ice in a 16-oz pint glass, stir, serve. 2 oz gin (this drink is made with vodka at Na­tional, but bar­tender Stephen Phipps rec­om­mends us­ing gin if you pre­fer)

1/2 oz 4 oz Minute Maid pink le­mon­ade

top with wheat beer (Phipps uses Blanche de Cham­bly by Uni­broue)

fresh lime juice

Griz­zly Paw gin-

Coin­treau

Build over ice in a 16-oz pint glass, adding the wheat beer last to achieve the lay­er­ing ef­fect (pink on bot­tom, yel­low on top). help­ing sales along. Cus­tomers are also cu­ri­ous about the beer cock­tails.

My favourite is the Dark & Stormy (see recipe). It’s ba­si­cally gin­ger beer tarted up with lime juice and spiked with dark rum, with some dashes of bit­ters for an ex­tra kick. So sim­ple, yet so tasty.

Phipps fan­cies the Hound Dog Hooch (see recipe). It was his summertime pool­side drink of choice grow­ing up in On­tario. Just mix vodka (or gin) with Minute Maid pink le­mon­ade and top with wheat beer.

“Be­fore I was cool and knew about gin, we used vodka,” he jokes, adding that the drink is kind of “ghetto,” but awe­some nonethe­less.

Other beer cock­tails in­clude a Pimm’s Cup made with gin­ger beer and the Na­tional Cae­sar, which calls for a splash of IPA. Phipps plans to add more beer cock­tails when the fall menu comes out.

In the mean­time, get your fill of these hy­brids or the tra­di­tional cock­tails. Just be­ware the one-litre Hound Dog Hooch — it will make you feel like danc­ing on your har­vest ta­ble.

I’m not sure how such beer hall-like be­hav­iour would go over in this classy joint (prob­a­bly swimmingly, but you never know).

Pho­tos: Stu­art Gradon/calgary Her­ald

Stephen Phipps of the Na­tional beer hall mixes a Hound Dog Hooch, his favourite on the pop­u­lar cock­tail menu.

Na­tional beer hall’s Dark and Stormy cock­tail, served up in a large Ma­son jar, is ba­si­cally gin­ger beer tarted up with lime juice and spiked with dark rum.

The Hound Dog Hooch com­bines vodka (or gin) with pink le­mon­ade and wheat beer. Cock­tails like this could steal the thun­der from reg­u­lar pints of beer.

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