Drunken Monkey
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Bar West

959 Hornblend Street, Pacific Beach

Inspired in part by hip-hop and in part by “wheat pop,” one of Bar West’s best-selling drinks, the Drunken Monkey, developed from the beer-and-fruit combos already sliding across the bar most nights, says bartender Scott Halley.

“We tried to step it up and make it a little better,” he says. “We already garnish either a Shock Top or a Blue Moon with a slice of orange, so, we figured, why not add a little orange juice? Another bartender suggested we add a shot of orange vodka; hence, the drunken part of the monkey.”

Scott Halley

Scott Halley

On the other paw, the monkey part of the drink, Halley notes, comes from the Beastie Boys’ 1986 hit “Brass Monkey,” a paean to both the cocktail and the Brooklyn trio’s prowess in consuming the same.

There are a number of drinks called the Brass Monkey: one that calls for gin and tequila, another for rum and vodka, and a third concoction that requires a 40-oz. bottle of malt liquor. Because orange juice is the common denominator in all three versions, the Drunken Monkey abides well within the tradition.

As prerequisite, though, Halley says, the customer has to like Belgian-style wheat beer.

“That’s going to be the main taste,” he explains. “And then you’re going to notice a little hint and bite of liquor, but it cools down with the orange juice. The acid complements the alcohol.... I have no idea why these things work well together — but I suppose it’s the same reason people have been drinking screwdrivers for years.”

Kitchen Proof: Make sure the beer is well chilled. The combination welcomes the juice not to rescue the whole, but to round out the pleasant friction of beer and booze.

In a pint glass, pour:

  • ¾ extremely chilled bottle (12 oz.)
  • Shock Top (or other Belgian style) wheat ale
  • 2 oz. orange juice
  • 1 ¼ oz. Ketel One Oranje vodka

Garnish with orange peel and start swinging from the rafters.

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