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It's craft meets craft these days as mixologists across the country combine craft beer and craft spirits to devise innovative cocktail creations. And why not? It's been amply demonstrated that the two play well together.

Going back in history, our colonial forebears concocted strong drinks that blended the ales and spirits of the day. Beers aged in emptied whiskey, sherry and rum barrels have become a fixture of the modern craft beer world.

The current crop of drinks runs the gamut from beer-infused versions of cocktail classics to entirely new formulations that incorporate beer, beer ingredients and syrups made with beer. There is a cocktail for virtually every style and flavor of beer. They are built on a wide range of spirits, from bourbon, rye and gin to flavored liqueurs like elderflower, raspberry, ginger and cherry. Bitter amaros such as Campari and Aperol are also in the mix.

These five recipes offer an opportunity to enjoy beer cocktails appropriate for every season. Light wheat beers and even citrusy IPAs make tasty, refreshing sippers perfect for a steamy Midwestern summer.

Cold in the Shadows

Winter has been stubborn this year, clinging tenaciously to every last moment it can grab. Even when the sun shines, the cold can still creep around the edges. The appropriately named Cold in the Shadows, created by Pamela Wiznitzer for the now-defunct Seamstress in New York, makes a nice springtime bridge into summer's warmth.

The raspberry liqueur provides the dominant note, coming off as tart, fresh raspberries in combination with the lime juice. Campari and IPA bring bracing bitterness and soft herbal and citrus aromas. The flavors of the IPA are more background than feature. Taste the two side by side and you'll find it in the drink, but it doesn't stand out on its own. Add more if you feel it needs it. Cold in the Shadows goes down dangerously fast. Luckily, it's relatively low in alcohol.

Here Comes the Sun

A ginger-lemon hard candy for adults, Here Comes the Sun, from Roofers Union Restaurant and Bar in Washington, D.C., is perfect for spring. Ginger syrup, rye whiskey and coriander from the witbier combine for a zesty, spicy edge. It's softened by subtle banana, bitter orange peel and sweetness from the beer and the syrup. The wheat beer also gives some pillowy texture to an otherwise light cocktail. This is a delicious welcome to spring .

Beer's Knees

As May progresses, the flowers of summer will ultimately bloom, luring butterflies and bees out of hiding. It's time for Beer's Knees, a refreshingly delicate, wheat beer-infused take on the classic Bee's Knees cocktail. This is a perfect balance of gin, honey, lemon and beer. You can taste them all, but none is dominant.

Gin gives a botanical background. Honey brings sweetness and honeycomb flavor. Lemon provides a tart lift. Hefeweizen beer provides a soft, creamy texture and hints of banana and spicy clove. This cocktail is delicate enough that any change of ingredients will make a difference. Have fun. Play with different gins — herbal, citrusy, piney. Try honeys from different flowers. Hefeweizen could be replaced with a clean American wheat beer. I drank this up in a coupe glass, but I could easily see sipping it on ice from a Collins glass on a hot summer afternoon.

El Chapo

Two summer favorites — strawberries and grapefruit radler, a blend of lager beer and grapefruit juice — come together in this cocktail from Nashville bartender Ben Clemons. The overall impression is bitterness, herbs and fruit. Strawberry from the infused Aperol is surprisingly present. The radler gives it a spritzy effervescence, but the grapefruit flavor is subtle; it almost seems like an element of the gin.

Weissen Sour

San Francisco cocktail maestro Kevin Diedrich created the Weissen Sour for Jasper's Corner Tap and Kitchen (he now owns Pacific Cocktail Haven). It's a refreshing but somewhat richer, more contemplative drink perfect for late summer. This take on the whiskey sour adds witbier, orange bitters and marmalade to the bourbon, lemon and syrup. And you taste it all. There is good balance of all the elements with bourbon coming in loud and clear. Bitters, marmalade and orange peel in the beer amplify each other while melding with the lemon and the beer's soft banana notes. The end result is a sweet-tart, lightly fizzy mélange of caramel, orange, lemon and fruit.

Two summer favorites — strawberries and grapefruit radlers — join forces for a spritzy refresher.
Two summer favorites — strawberries and grapefruit radlers — join forces for a spritzy refresher.

Photo by Dennis Becker, styling by Lisa Golden Schroeder

Cold in the Shadows

Serves 1.

Note: Honey syrup is essentially watered-down honey, which is easier to mix into drinks. To make it, stir equal parts of honey and water until you get an even consistency. Follow the recommended method for mixing this drink because it really does work well. Adding the effervescent beer after the whip shake will finish mixing the drink for you. From Pamela Wiznitzer, who created the drink for Seamstress in New York City.

• 2 tbsp. (1 oz.) Campari

• 1 tbsp. (.5 oz.) raspberry liqueur

• 2 tbsp. (1 oz.) lime juice

• 1 tbsp. (.5 oz.) honey syrup (see Note)

• 3 tbsp. (1.5 oz.) IPA, or more to taste

• Orange and lime slices, for garnish

Directions

Gather the ingredients. In a cocktail shaker, pour the Campari, raspberry liqueur, lime juice and honey syrup. Whip shake (shake just a few times) and add the beer to the tin. Fill a highball glass with crushed ice. Strain the drink into the glass. Garnish with slices of orange and lime and add a straw.

Here Comes the Sun

Serves 1.

Note: To make ginger syrup, bring 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup of sliced ginger to a boil. Let simmer for 15 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature and strain out the ginger. From Roofers Union Restaurant and Bar, Washington, D.C.

• 3 tbsp. (1.5 oz.) rye whiskey

• 1 12 tbsp. (.75 oz.) ginger syrup (see Note)

• 1 tbsp. (.5 oz.) lemon juice

• 2 tbsp. (1 oz.) Belgian witbier

• Lemon wedge, for garnish

Directions

Add the whiskey, ginger syrup and lemon juice into a shaker with ice and shake until well chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe glass, and top with the beer. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

Beer's Knees

Serves 1.

Note: To make honey syrup, stir equal parts of honey and water until you get an even consistency. Originally created by Aviation American Gin.

• 3 tbsp. (1.5 oz.) gin

• 2 tbsp. (1 oz.) freshly pressed lemon juice

• 2 tbsp. (1 oz.) honey syrup (see Note)

• 6 tbsp. (3 oz.) hefeweizen

• Lemon wedge, for garnish

Directions

Combine gin, lemon juice and honey syrup in a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a Collins glass with or without ice. Top with beer and garnish with lemon.

El Chapo

Serves 1.

Note: You'll need to plan ahead for this to give the strawberries time to infuse the Aperol. From Nashville bartender Ben Clemons.

• 3 tbsp. (1.5 oz.) gin

• 2 tbsp. (1 oz.) strawberry-infused Aperol (see below)

• Stiegl grapefruit radler, chilled, to top

• 2 strawberry slices, for garnish

Directions

Fill a rocks glass with ice, then add the gin and strawberry-infused Aperol. Top with the beer. Garnish with two fresh strawberry slices speared on a cocktail pick.

To make strawberry-infused Aperol: Soak a half-pint of fresh strawberries in a 750-milliliter bottle of Aperol for at least eight hours or overnight, then strain the solids. Store the infused Aperol in the refrigerator.

Weissen Sour

Serves 1.

Note: Cocktail maestro Kevin Diedrich created this for the bar program at Jasper's Corner Tap and Kitchen in San Francisco.

• 4 tbsp. (2 oz.) bourbon

• 1 12 tbsp. (.75 oz.) lemon juice

12 tbsp. (.25 oz.) simple syrup (see below)

• Bar spoon of orange marmalade

• 2 dashes orange bitters

• 4 tbsp. (2 oz.) Belgian witbier

• Lemon peel, for garnish

Directions

Combine all ingredients and gently shake with ice. Strain over fresh ice cubes into a highball glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

To make simple syrup: Combine equal parts water and sugar in a saucepan and cook on medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Michael Agnew is a certified cicerone (beer-world version of sommelier) and owner of A Perfect Pint. He conducts private and corporate beer tasting events in the Twin Cities, and can be reached at michael@aperfectpint.net.