When Ian Lowther was hired as the cocktail specialist at Red Cow last year, he told us he wanted to do a menu of “high-class boilermakers.” Since that’s a ridiculous combination of words, we just laughed.
We’re not laughing anymore—he’s made it a reality on his spring cocktail menu. Far from the cheap-whiskey-in-PBR boilermakers you (hopefully do not) remember from college, his are fine spirits mixed with craft beers, and the results are wonderful.
“Why boilermakers?” says Lowther (pictured, above). “We’re pretty beer-heavy here, and this is how people drink—a beer and a bump. This is our foray into cool pairings: taking things that seem diametrically opposed and showing people they really aren’t.”
Our favorite is Volstead’s Accident (pictured, top)—a drink so named when Lowther was drinking at the Uptown speakeasy, Volstead’s, had a glass of each component, and decided to mix them together. Plantation Five Year Rum combines with Castle Danger Cream Ale to taste like a rum-soaked sponge cake with vanilla pastry cream—basically, the beverage version of baba au rhum.
On the dry end of the spectrum is The Northeast Rail Line (Bauhaus Wonderstuff + Tattersall Aquavit), that sips like an airy loaf of rye bread. The “Local Boilermaker of the Moment” is Steel Toe Size 7 and Tattersall Grapefruit Crema—which adds an extra burst of citrus to the resinous IPA.
Oh, and we drank all the other new regular cocktails as well. The Gold Coast (pictured above) is our favorite—a mix of dried and fresh herbs (basil, tarragon, savory, dill, thyme, lavendar, bay) flavor this sprightly Collins with grapefruit and lemon juice. “It’s very green and fresh— it’s aggressively spring.” says Lowther.
The Cantuta Primavera is full of berries and Aperol and sparkling wine, and it’s pink and served up, because “Pink drinks are always the best drinks,” Lowther says. Along those same lines is the Blood, Zest and Tears (pictured, below), in which high-proof Wray & Nephew rum soaked with blood orange zest frames a bitter, boozy daiquiri. The Spring Tiki is three rums and four Tattersall cordials, mixed to into a citrusy funk.
The boilermakers and new cocktails are available now at the North Loop and St. Paul locations (50th Street is currently working on a liquor license).