The Duke of Clarence’s Steve McDermott shows us three ways with ale cocktails

Mixing drinks with beer can be a hit and miss affair; The Duke of Clarence’s Steve McDermott proves it doesn’t need to be.

Beer cocktails. I’ve never really been a fan. Sure, a Michelada can work. But generally, they’re not really something I go looking for.

Well, that’s all changed now, thanks to the Custard Ale Flip at The Duke of Clarence in Sydney. The new bar from the team behind The Barber Shop (and conveniently located right next door) takes its cues from the English taverns of old, serving up real cask ale from the hand-pump, and using the stuff in their cocktails.

The Custard Ale Flip isn’t your traditional Flip; the recipe doesn’t call for a raw egg, instead they’ve made a marmalade custard made with a sous-vide bath to cook the egg at 75 degrees Celsius.

Ale Flips have been around since before the time of Jerry Thomas’ 1862 bartending manual, and the Professor didn’t leave the beer preparations at just that. He wrote about the Ale Sangaree, too, a drink that dates back even before the time of the cocktail; it’s a drink which makes an appearance on the Duke of Clarence list as well, thanks to bar manager Steve McDermott.


“The Ale Sangaree was an old drink even in the time of Jerry Thomas,” says McDermott. “It pre-dates Sangria, too, but both words come from the same origin, meaning ‘blood’”.

The trick with the Sangaree, says McDermott, is that you don’t want to water it down too much.

“You’re stirring literally to chill it, you’re not stirring it to dilute it, so it’s a pretty quick stir,” he says.

The classic spirit and beer combo is a Boilermaker, and the third recipe here is a riff on that which McDermott has been perfecting for years: it’s a simple, delicious measure of Amaro Montenegro topped up with brown ale, served over ice.

Perhaps I’m a fan of beer cocktails after all.

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