Mixology: It’s not just for liquor.
Beer, too, is a suitable ingredient for use in the art of making a mix to create a sum that is greater than the parts.
Beer sales still dwarf wine and liquor sales nationally and worldwide. Thus, it makes sense that the mixology cognoscenti would use beer in their new and older traditional drinks.
If you are in a beer rut, drinking the same old thing, day after day, try a beer cocktail. One of the originals is the Radler.
The story goes that an ambitious barkeeper invented the Radler early in the 20th century. He bought a little bar in Bavaria and helped lead the local charge to develop a bike trail that coincidentally ran right by his establishment. As the biking scene took off during the decade, his bar became the go-to spot.
One day, during a big bike rally, he had thousands of bikers stop by his bar. Running low on his beer stock would have been disastrous, so he used some old unsellable lemon soda he had stocked in the basement and mixed it 50-50 with the remaining beer stocks. His ingenious way of rationalizing was that the bikers wouldn’t fall off their bikes on the way home! A great idea. and the bikers loved it so much they kept coming back for more! (Bonus information: Radler means “biker” in German.)
In Europe, the radler beers are getting super popular. Here in the states, the big sellers are Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy and Time Traveler Shandy. However try the Stiegl Radler for the truest European expression of the great drink!
You may wonder why Leinie’s calls its popular beer Summer Shandy and not radler. In Great Britain, a shandy is any drink that has beer and soda added. The true British shandy is beer and ginger beer mixed together. However Leinie’s liked the alliterative values of the Summer Shandy!
A great drink that the Brits have invented is also the Snakebite. Snakebite is any beer and hard apple cider mixed. It is a great mix where the sweetness of the cider and the slight hop bitterness mesh together to make a great drink. Try it for a change of pace.
The idea of mixing beer is also popular in Latino countries. The Michelada and the Chelada are very popular, and you can even find the Chelada premixed by the Budweiser family of beers.
A Michelada is good cold cerveza mixed with lime juice, assorted sauces, spices and peppers. Try a bottle of Modelo Especial, one whole lime juiced, Worchestershire sauce, Tabasco and soy sauce. Mix in a pint glass, and you have a great Michelada. Don’t forget to rim the cup with salt!
A Chelada is similar, but you add tomato juice, or for a real treat, use Clamato. The Clamato has a unique flavor that adds a little oomph! I like a little heavier beer like Dos Equis in my Chelada.
The Radler, Shandy and the Michelada are all relatively old recipes with a lot of tradition. If you want to step out and experiment, there are a lot of newer recipes and ideas floating around. See the sidebar for two beer cocktails to liven up your afternoon and evenings.
Beer is easy to drink, easy to find, and can be used in a myriad of ways. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Expand your horizons and always enjoy in moderation. Cheers!