At the peak of summer when the sweltering sun borders on oppressive, hydration can be a bit of a challenge. Especially when we are all making up for lost time and doing our best to enjoy ourselves in a safe and responsible manner. Enter your new best friend: the summer Shandy.
Whether it’s called a Radler in Germany, a Panaché in France, a Clara in Spain, or perhaps most popularly a Shandy in the U.S. and U.K., by any name this delightfully refreshing beer cocktail is beloved around the world come the summertime as it contains half the alcohol and twice the hydration of a normal beer.
The Shandy as we have come to know it is suspected to have originated in 19th century England from the then popular drink known as the rich man’s Shandygaff; a combination of ale and champagne or ale and ginger beer for those who couldn’t afford it. The Shandygaff was later shortened to Shandy for brevity and other variations of the drink soon followed. Perhaps most famously was the German Radler which came to be when a Bavarian bar owner by the name of Franz Kugler cut his diminishing beer supply with lemonade to prevent his customers from growing ornery, much to their delight.
Today it isn’t uncommon to see bartenders use lemon-lime soda (such as Sprite or 7-11), various citrus or fruit juices, or even cider as a mixer, depending on local customs and preference. And while what to call this popular beer cocktail is highly contested among purists, everyone agrees it’s delicious. Here are some basic principles to bring your Shandy to the next level.
While it may seem obvious, a great Shandy starts with a great beer — but not just any great beer. A lighter bodied beer such as a hefeweizen, a light lager, or pilsner works best as they won’t overpower or weigh down the final mix. We were fortunate enough to partner with one of our favorite local breweries, Maui Brewing Co., to craft our ideal summer Shandy. Their Pineapple Mana Wheat Beer proved to be the perfect candidate as it has a light and smooth body, a sweet and fruity aroma, and a mellow tartness that makes for a well-rounded and easy summer sipper.
Popular variations often feature citrus flavored sodas, but fresh citrus juice really makes all the difference. While lemon, lime, grapefruit, and oranges are all great options, we are quite partial to the Hawaiian calamansi which tastes somewhere between a sour orange and sweet lime. It’s distinct flavor makes this particular Shandy uniquely delightful.
Typically pre-sweetened soda or lemonade will provide all of if not more than the sweetness your Shandy requires, which after 2 or 3 pints can begin to add up quickly. You can regulate the amount and type of sweetener by building your Shandy from the “ground up” as we did here using our Basil Stem and Ginger Simple Syrup which imparts a deliciously spicy and herbal sweetness. The sweetener of your choice (honey, agave, sugar, etc.) will work just fine but a simple syrup is a quick and effective way to incorporate new and exciting flavors. Simply combine your citrus juice, simple syrup, water, and muddled aromatics in a cocktail shaker or a pint glass for an instant citrus-ade that’s made to taste.
In addition to our herbaceous and lively simple syrup, fresh herbs and aromatics offer another vibrant layer of crispness that will make your Shandy extraordinarily refreshing. Briefly muddle your herbs and aromatics with your fresh citrus juice of choice in a cocktail shaker or pint glass to unlock all of the flavor potential.
Above all else a Shandy should refresh so keep things cold every step of the way. Shake your instant-ade with ice before serving in a nice frosty mug for peak satisfaction.