Last summer our cocktails were dank in honor of the incredibly rainy summer we had here in the South (which subsequently led to a record cold winter). This summer, we’re trying a new theme in the Gourmand household – bocktails! We’re jumping on the craft beer cocktail bandwagon to see what we can mix up to enjoy poolside or on a relaxing balcony evening at home. We have several bocktails lined up for you to try this summer. Some are traditional recipes we have altered to the craft beer lover palette. Others are of our own invention. Whichever it is, we hope you join us in raising a glass (or mug) this summer.
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. 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 (which explains why Leinenkugel now offers a version…). 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.
Whatever the name, Radler or Shandy, I’m not a fan. I can’t understand why anyone would want to cover up the flavor of a quality brew with the sweetness and sour of lemonade, or why anyone would drink a beer that tastes so bad it needs covered up. I do, however, understand the present day theory behind drinking a Shandy. Sometimes, while poolside, a knock your swim trunks off high ABV IPA that all the breweries seem to be pumping out just won’t do. I prefer not to end up belly-up like a beached whale on a lounge chair with weiner written on my belly in sunscreen.
I crave something refreshing and light in alcohol content. In theory, a Shandy should work. But the typical Shandy is way too sweet for me. Even, the Radlers I sampled in Germany made me want to scream “Dammit Aunt Alice!” Thus I created a recipe that I think will resonate with any 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 that just gets drowned out by the citrus. 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 Shandy that starts with the sweet grapefruit-ade, followed by the earthy basil, and finished with a clean hop bite.
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!