It's often said that there's nothing better than an ice-cold beer on a hot summer day - but what if you could make the beer better? What's more, with the aid of just a few pantry staples?

We've all seen the craft beer explosion, with the resulting flood of styles and labels. Now - in what may be the natural next stage of beer's evolution in New Zealand - bartenders are starting to play with the distinct and varying flavours on offer to create a whole new array of cocktails. 

Then again, as Ryan Miller, says, adding things to beer isn't necessarily a new idea. The bar manager of The Institution in Christchurch points to established favourites like the Mexican bloody mary-style michelada, or the lagerita, a play on the classic citrus-based margarita with a light lager added.

 Ryan Miller's beer cocktail harnesses citrus and tequila, for a refreshing summer twist on a pilsner.

Ryan Miller's beer cocktail harnesses citrus and tequila, for a refreshing summer twist on a pilsner.

As he puts it, it's the ideal solution for the drinker who says, "I really feel like a cocktail, but I really feel like a beer".

While bartenders like Miller are happy to whip beer cocktails up for such customers, he says that there is no reason they can't be created at home.