Beer-and-shot combos: Ten best pairings in NYC
Beer-and-shot combos are a dime a dozen in this town—TONY searched out NYC’s ten best pairings, from salt-of-the-earth dive-bar selections to top-shelf craft variations.
Tue Feb 12 2013
Photograph: Jessica Lin
Sometimes, you just need a beer and a shot of whiskey—no questions asked. Whether you’re looking to cheer up or dial down, the time-honored combo offers a one-two punch that a glass of wine or a cocktail just can’t match. We rounded up the best the city had to offer—both lowbrow and high-end, from the original pickleback to a classy, European-inspired pairing—for your hard-drinking pleasure.
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Before there was the boilermaker, there was the “pop-in,” a beloved 17th-century English libation that flavored (often unpalatable) medieval ales with a bitter or fruit-based tincture. In this modern re-creation, a shot of the Italian artichoke liqueur Cynar lends a vegetal sweetness to a pour of the light, faintly sour ale Leipziger Gose—combining the refreshing effervescence of a beer with an amaro’s bright flavor. $9.
- 30 Water St, (at Broad St), 10004
Get a triple blast of bourbon with this liquid trifecta, which matches a Kentucky Bourbon Barrel ale—the beer aged in the spirit’s cask—with two shots of the corn-based whiskey. Each one brings a different facet of the beer to light: A dram of Buffalo Trace emphasizes vanilla, while Bulleit accents oak. $15.
- 46–42 Vernon Blvd, (between 46th and 47th Aves), 11101
Wily barman Del Pedro will throw a wild card into his sophisticated cocktail menu with a new section ofAmerican whiskey-and-brew couplings, expected to debut at month’s end. Among the six to eight projected options, a lightly hoppy Saratoga lager, brewed upstate, brightens the honeyed sweetness of the Old Pogue Master’s Select bourbon and cleans up with a pleasantly acerbic bite. $8.50–$11.50.
- 793 Washington Ave, (between Lincoln Pl and St. Johns Pl)
Amid the strollers and brownstones of Park Slope, chef Dale Talde’s roadhouse joint stands out as a late-night beacon of raffish fun. The daily Slippery Slope beer-and-shot special features whatever the bartender’s drinking, like a crisp, malty Blue Point Toasted lager, whose citrus notes play off the green-apple hints in a slug of mellow Jameson Black Barrel. Down a 100 Slopes and get your name carved on a trophy behind the bar. $5.
- 247 Fifth Ave, (between Carroll St and Garfield Pl), 11215
This twosome takes its cue from the bar’s European affectations, with its soft, salty pretzels and chapel-like ceiling paintings. In the union of two classic Czech flavors, hoppy, fizzy Pilsner Urquell chills the cinnamon spark of Becherovka—an herbal, bitter liqueur—making for a clean, lip-smacking finish. $9.
- Chelsea Market, 425 W 15th St, (between Ninth and Tenth Aves)
For a patriotic draft, brewer Chris Cuzme re-creates President Obama’s famous home-brewed White House Honey Ale as a porter and pairs it with a shot of Jim Beam bourbon—made in America since 1795. Bittered with Centennial and Hallertau hops (often used in IPAs) and sweetened with wild honey produced upstate, the beer—chocolaty and surprisingly dry—smooths out the Beam’s heat while boosting its woodiness. $10.
- 508 Greenwich St, (between Canal and Spring Sts)
These potentially bruising rivals—the Resin ale clocks in at 9.1 percent ABV and the rye at 50 percent (or 100 proof)—are surprisingly smooth in tandem. An infusion of mint honey and a dash of Old-Fashioned bitters in the whiskey are the key, softening the rye’s raw edge and the Sixpoint brew’s bitterness while amping up the malt character of both boozes. $11.
- 188 Suffolk St, (between E Houston and Stanton Sts), 10002
First popularized at this eccentric Williamsburg dive in 2006 by bartender Reggie Cunningham—who got the idea from a gritty Southern customer—this bizarrely delicious shot medley is still best sampled at its birthplace. The bracing sourness of the Old Crow Reserve Kentucky bourbon shot is followed by a rich, salty slug of pickle juice. After washing it all down with an ice-cold gulp of PBR, you’ll be surprised at how soon you’ll want another. $7.
- 618 Grand St, (between Leonard and Lorimer Sts)
At the wood-paneled bar, restart your engines with this fiery duo, guaranteed to spark life into any sluggish drinker. The shot of chili-infused El Jimador tequila is served in the mouth of the bottled beer—shoot it; savor the bright, aggresively spiced agave spirit; and then chug as much of the thirst-quenching Dominican pilsner as you can manage, to put out the flames on your tongue. $6.
- 10 Hope St, (between Havemeyer and Roebling Sts)
Wash down your fried chicken and biscuits at the popular Williamsburg gastrodive with a pint of the bar’s house-brewed beer and a nip of the budget-priced but still tasty Evan Williams bourbon. Brewed with Hudson Valley water, the beer sets up a crisp, minerally counterpoint to the warm, caramel-inflected whiskey. $5.
- 366 Metropolitan Ave, (at Havemeyer St)