Frontier Psychiatrist

Frontier Mixology, Vol. 14: It Takes Two

Posted on: July 30, 2010

Thanks to his brother-in-law, your correspondent was lucky enough to be at the Black Keys show at SummerStage last Wednesday night.  With the energy they put out, it’s not clear how they went and did another show at Terminal 5 that same night.  In any event, the show planted a seed for a drink that, like the Black Keys, is made up of two components that end up feeling like a hell of a lot more.  After all, as Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock well knew, it takes two to make a thing go right.

Thinking along these lines led to a beer-based drink: the Black Velvet.  Created to mournfully mark the passing of the Queen’s Consort, Prince Albert in 1861, the Black Velvet is an equal-parts mixture of stout and sparkling wine, with the wine floated on top, a procedure allowed for by the two liquids’ differing densities.  The unlikely combination proved quite popular, and is variously known as a Bismark after a certain Otto von, said to have drained quarts of them daily.  The Iron Chancellor’s taste for sparkling wine perhaps leading to the annexation of French territories after the Franco-Prussian war.

As for the Black Velvet itself — unlike the members of London’s Whiggish Brooks’s Club, where the drink was first created and which was known as a place for gaming, male bonding, and political intrigue — we are not awash in funds sufficient to put expensive sparkling wine to such uses.  Enter, the Poor Man’s Black Velvet.  This drink better captures what we were looking for, substituting as it does hard cider for the Champagne.  The proportions, however, need adjusting because the cider otherwise makes the drink way too sweet for our taste, but feel free to play around.

Poor Man’s Black Velvet

1 part hard cider (e.g. Magners)

2 parts stout beer (e.g. Guiness)

Pour in the cider, then slowly add the stout, pouring it over the back of a spoon if desired.

The Poor Man’s Black Velvet is a great example of a drink combining two ingredients to great effect, similar to a Black and Tan, but more distinctive.  It’s a great summer drink, and, just like the Black Keys, it even has a Facebook page.

Drink up,


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