Black Velvet if you please

When the weather changes, so do my beer needs. Instead of the taste of crisp clean hops, I want warm dark coffee and spice. Hints of fruit are good, too. Instead of light and clear, I want dark and creamy. In the past month or so, I have settled on the perfect drink for fall 2009. And because it contains Guinness, it's good for you.

For several weeks I was calling my drink of choice a "Snakebite," confusing bartenders everywhere. What I wanted was half hard cider, half Guinness. Turns out this concoction is actually called a "Black Velvet," or maybe a "Poor Man's Black Velvet" for those who think the former is Guinness and champagne. (A Snakebite is actually lager & cider. Or a shot of Yukon Jack with lemon juice, depending on your source.)

Whatever it's called, I've been ordering the drink all around town with varying degrees of satisfaction. One bar usually floats the Guinness on the cider just right, but then a newish bartender poured me a pint that was a muddy, layerless mass. It tasted different. It also had a disturbing opacity, like a Guinness that was feeling unwell. Another bar with Guinness but not cider on tap gave me (at my request) a pint of Guinness with a bottle of cider on the side. I mixed them by taking quick sips of each--interesting experiment, but definitely not a Black Velvet.

Maybe I could just learn to make my own? Yes let's! Memory suggested and Google confirmed that the only special equipment I needed was a spoon. First I assembled my ingredients.

Happy 250th, Guinness!

Here's my first try at pouring a Black Velvet--it worked!

Some of the Guinness crept back down the handle of the spoon while I was pouring (see puddle). But I'm impressed at my pretty layers. I believe bartenders use a dedicated spoon that has an extra kink in it to prevent the spilling issue. Guess I could get out some pliers and kink a spoon if I'm going to keep this up. If you like beer & cider, give this simple drink a try! I hardly need to give directions--pour half a pint of cider, then slowly pour half a pint of Guinness (use the kind in the can, because the widget will make it foam up more like the draught version) over the back of a spoon so it floats atop the cider. Deeelicious.

So, is this really called a Black Velvet in your book? What other beer mixtures do you like? (I kind of want to call them "beertails," cuz the beer is both the booze and the mixer...)

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