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Consider giving your favourite cocktails a refreshing overhaul by adding craft beer as a mixer

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Cocktail connoisseurs are falling for craft beers in a new way — as a mixer.

Bars around the country are tapping into the trend of mixing artisanal brews with hard liquor to create new, refreshing cocktails. Can't see how it works? How about a bold stout blended with white chocolate liqueur? Or maybe a mojito made with blonde ale and rum?

Beer as a mixer isn't new, but it has seen an uptick in recent years, fueled largely by the flourishing market of excellent craft beers, according to bar consultant Jacob Grier, who's publishing a book on beer cocktails next year called "Cocktails on Tap."

Beer is a versatile ingredient that "offers tons of different possibilities that you wouldn't get in other mixing spirits," he says. For example, malty or fruity beers add a sweet element to a cocktail, hoppy beers add bitter and floral notes, and stouts can add a chocolate or roasted flavour.

Here are a couple of craft cocktail recipes for your July Fourth festivities. They would be a fine way to celebrate your freedom from plain-old light beers.

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RICKEY BREW

Start to finish: 5 minutes

Servings: 1

1 ounce lime juice

1 ounce gin

1/4 cup fresh raspberries

8 ounces raspberry lambic, chilled

In a pilsner glass, combine the lime juice, gin and raspberries, using the back of a spoon to crush the raspberries. Fill with raspberry lambic, then stir gently just to combine.

(Recipe by Alison Ladman)

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BLACK CREAM

Start to finish: 5 minutes

Servings: 1

1 ounce Godiva liqueur

1 ounce coffee liqueur

4 ounces cream soda, chilled

4 ounces dark stout

In a tall glass, combine the Godiva and coffee liqueur. Slowly pour the cream soda down the side of the glass, followed by the stout.

(Recipe by Alison Ladman)

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Michael Felberbaum can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/MLFelberbaum

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