Summer Bocktails – Grapefruit Radler Recipe with Basil
History of the Radler
I love reading the history behind storied cocktails like the Pina Colada or Moscow Mule. There’s no shortage of myths about who first invented the concoction and why. With a Shandy / Radler, the debate wages even greater. Not only can connoisseurs not decide on the history, they can’t even decide on a name or country of origin. And what would those historians say about a Grapefruit Radler Recipe?
The drink, consisting of beer and lemon soda or lemonade, is referred to as Radler in Germany and Austria (where some argue it was invented) and Shandy in England (where others argue it was invented) and pretty much the rest of the world.
No matter which country the bocktail is from, the legends of invention are pretty much the same – a bar keep, or brewery, was trying to cover the taste of bad beer with the sweet citrusy summer goodness of lemonade.
The most convincing story, however, hails from a watering hole located 14 miles outside of Munich. In 1922, the barkeeper experienced an unexpected rush of patrons as a bicycle rally came through town. Legend holds that 13,000 cyclists descended upon the Kugleralm. As the barkeeper ran low on the sudsy goodness of beer, he mixed what was left of his dwindling beer supply with lemonade as a refreshing alternative. He even named it Radler which translates cyclist.
Today, breweries and bartenders offer their own take on the radler, experimenting with both the style of beer and citrus used. In my version, I created a Grapefruit Radler with the additional infusion of fresh basil. It’s perfect for a hot summer afternoon!
Grapefruit Radler Recipe
The following recipe creates a radler that will resonate with craft beer fan as it doesn’t overpower the beer but enhances it. For starters, I use an IPA instead of the traditional helles or wheat beer. Find a citrusy IPA that is low on malt level as you are just looking for the hops bite (I used Hoppium by Foothills). I also swapped out the harsh lemons with softer grapefruit and added basil to the simple syrup for an extra level of complexity.
The result is a radler that starts with the sweet grapefruit, followed by the earthy basil, and finished with a clean hop bite.
*If you don’t want to make a basil syrup, you can buy a pre-made syrup by Monin.
Ingredients (Makes 4 servings)
- Sugar (we substitute Splenda) – 2 cups
- Water – 1 cup
- A few springs of fresh basil
- Club soda
- Grapefruits – 2
- IPA – 2 bottles
- Mix the water, sugar, and basil of in a small pan. Bring to a boil for five minutes.
- Remove the sauce pan from the stovetop and refrigerate until chilled and ready to serve.
- Mix your grapefruit-ade by combining equal parts club soda and grapefruit. I large grapefruit yields about a half cup of juice. Add 4 tbsp of syrup.
- Combine the beer and grapefruit-ade at a 50 / 50 mix
- Find a swimming pool, balcony or golf course and enjoy!