We’ve been on a beer kick lately. Check out the last several Happy Hour blogs and you will see what I mean. Yet because this is New Orleans and we proudly wear the "Cocktail Capital of the Universe" crown, we can’t just turn our backs on adult beverages made with multiple ingredients, blended to glorious perfection.
Still when the temperatures head north of 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and the humidity follows a parallel path, cold thirst-quenching refreshments are a quest, not merely a relaxing pastime. There is a personal need for something refreshing while at the same time comfortable and yet challenging. That’s a lot to ask.
Well, ask the shandy. Oh, wait, you are not sure about a shandy, nor do you even know what it is? Then lucky for you, Happy Hour is here and nigh.
A shandy is broadly defined as a beer mixed with non-alcoholic drinks, such as lemonade, a ginger ale or fruit juice. Because the main ingredient is beer, shandys are quite popular in Germany. But their appeal crosses all of the international borders. Like in Mexico, the Michelada is beer with lime juice, assorted peppers, sauces and spices.
The origin of the name, michelada, is a combination of words that add up to “my ice-cold beer.” Mi chela helada. A chela in Mexico is a cold beer. A suggested Michelada recipe is:
- Clamato Juice or Bloody Mary Mix
- Fresh squeezed lime juice
- Worcestershire Sauce, teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, or hot sauce
Stirred, not shaken, then served in a salt-rimmed pint glass
All ingredients used in proportion to personal taste.
The origin of the name, shandy, is not quite so clear as are the drink recipes. The term itself, as best as we can identify, came from shandygraff, a term used in the middle 1800’s in Great Britain to describe a drink made with beer and ginger beer or ginger ale. It really makes no sense, but since I am woefully lacking in understanding British slang, even the modern kind, I am probably not the best resource of “why?”
In Germany, the drink is a Radler, which translates to cyclist. A pub owner was waiting for his cycling regulars, and when they were late, he realized he was going to be short on beer. So, he mixed the beer with lime juice and a few other concoctions. His regulars liked the diluted beverage, much to the pub owner’s surprise.
Shandies are popular in bars but making the product commercially for take-home use has been problematic. The beer must be pasteurized and the lime or citrus brew should be stabilized to keep the sugars from beginning fermentation all over again. The drink’s attribute is a spritziness but this does not seem to be something the public is seeking without absolute freshness.
How about we pass on a few shandy recipes from a guy that knows his way around a back bar and a beer tap? Daniel Victory is the owner of Victory, 339 Baronne in the CBD, and also operates Drink Lab at 343 Baronne St. – alcohol’s answer to cooking school.
Victory, by the way, is a former "Mixologist of the Year" from New Orleans Magazine, so he has proven his mettle and techniques. You definitely want to note that the last ingredient added to the cocktail is the beer. You really don’t want to add beer to a shaker then shake. Nothing good happens in that sequence.
Two Victory Bar Shandy Creations
- 1/2-ounce Campari
- 1/2-ounce Hum (hibiscus liqueur)
- 1/2-ounce lemon juice
- 3/4-ounce simple syrup
- Shake ingredients.
- Add this to a light Pilsner beer.
- Fresh Pineapple
- Muddled with lemon juice & simple syrup
- Shake ingredients.
- Pour and mix with light Pilsner beer, top off with Sprite.
Victory also suggests trying a more sophisticated and celebratory mixture, a classic French 75 with the addition of the beer of your choice.
Shandies are a great way to beat the heat, of which there is still a lot to come. Oh, sorry, did I say that out loud?
Read Happy Hour here on www.myneworleans.com every Wednesday, and listen to The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, hosted by Tim, every weekday, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. on WGSO 990AM and streamed as well as stored (podcast), at www.wgso.com. Also, check out Last Call, Tim’s photo-feature every month in New Orleans Magazine. Be sure to watch "Appetite for Life," hosted by Tim every Thursday evening at 7 p.m., and Sundays at 5 p.m., on WLAE-TV, Channel 32 in New Orleans. Previously broadcast episodes are available for viewing at http://www.wlae.com/appetite-for-life/