Friday Cocktails: The Snakebite

The Snakebite
The Snakebite
The Snakebite—equal parts hard cider and stout—works best with a crisp, dry cider.Helen Rosner

It took me a long time to come around to hard cider. My first taste of the stuff was a sip of cloyingly sweet brew that could only feasibly be enjoyed by a teenager, its flavor somewhere between green Jolly Rancher and cheap beer. But as more bars and beer shops have picked up dry, complex ciders, I've gradually been won over. My favorite cider cocktail, the Snakebite, has a similarly unfair reputation: In the 1980s, British teenagers and young pub-goers would sweeten their beer with sweet cider so that it went down a little too easy, so much so that an urban myth prevails that Snakebites are outlawed in UK pubs. But made with good stout and crisp, dry cider, this drink (which also goes by the name Black Velvet) is perfect for fall. It's what I order at the bar when I'm feeling indecisive—the layered measure of earthy beer slowly gives way to the fruitier, more effervescent cider. It's equally appealing at home, as the drink requires little effort but looks impressive in the glass; the trick to keeping the stout layered on top of the cider is to pour the beer very slowly over the back of a spoon.