For those of us based in the United States, the Picon bière can be a tad inaccessible. One of the drink’s primary ingredients, Amer Picon, a French bitter liqueur, is not available stateside. Furthermore, it might seem strange to drink augmented beer—it’s not overly common to add extra ingredients to a beer before drinking it, let alone an obscure bitter orange liqueur that’s only available in Europe.
But don’t be intimidated! Beer cocktails like these are low-work, high-reward cocktails that can really hit the spot on a hot, lazy day (or any day).
The most challenging aspect of this drink is to recreate the flavor of Amer Picon using more readily available ingredients (of course, you could solve this by flying to France and bringing some back in your checked bags, but that’s a story for another day). Amer Picon has a lot of similarities to Italian bitter liqueurs known as amaro, but with a heavy orange note. I find that a blend of Ramazotti Amaro, Amaro Montenegro, and Cointreau, a French orange liqueur, are a great substitution for the original Amer Picon. Ramazotti features a cola-like profile, while Montenegro features lighter notes of rose and vanilla, and the Cointreau will supply the requisite orange flavors. That said, you can also go all-in on either Ramazotti or Montenegro if you feel like it.
There’s a quick trick that’s really useful here that I like to call “the soda (or in this case, beer) sandwich.” In order to combine all the ingredients without over-stirring and losing carbonation, I like to pour a small amount of beer in the bottom of the glass, add the remaining ingredients, and then top with the remaining beer. —John deBary