They call these the dog days of summer. If sunny seasonal fatigue sets in, there’s no need to let it bring you down. Liven things up with elegant and easy beer cocktails. They’re ideal for unwinding in sticky weather, and they won’t slow you down because they dilute beer with refreshing, hydrating beverages. (Translation: You can enjoy a few and not get wasted.)
Though creative possibilities have made beer cocktails all the rage with cutting-edge mixologists, ours are straightforward and simple, requiring only a few ingredients. The better to get you sipping!
When you mix citrus and beer, you really can’t lose. In Britain there’s the Shandy, a 50-50 mixture of fizzy lemonade and ale or lager. Similar drinks go by Panaché in France and Radler in Germany. We like to skip the carbonated stuff and use freshly squeezed lemonade instead. It pairs splendidly with a crisp pilsner (psst: it doesn’t even have to be a fancy one).
The michelada, a Mexican classic which adds spicy heat to pilsner beer and lime, fights fire with fire. On a hot day, a hint of chilies and salt cool down a weary traveler.
Keep a wide berth from the recent spate of canned, ready-to-drink Shandys and Micheladas. They are to beer cocktails what Tang is to orange juice. The biggest key to successful beer cocktails is to mix them yourself, at home, with fresh ingredients (for instance, use real lemonade, not Crystal Light).
We created a beer cocktail just for Heirloom Finds—the First Blush, naturally. It’s fruity, not too sweet, and gorgeous to look at. Of course.
The First Blush Beer Cocktail
Instead of citrus, we rely on the tart zip of dried hibiscus blossoms. Since they’re not easy to find, we brewed a batch of Celestial Seasonings Raspberry Zinger tea, which you can get at nearly any grocery store (the zing comes from hibiscus) and chilled it. Mix away for a garnet-hued drink to let you savor the last weeks of summer in comfort and contentment.4 bags Celestial Seasonings Raspberry Zinger Tea
4 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
Bottles or cans of decent Pilsner beer (we like Full Sail Session Premium Lager or Yuengling Traditional Lager)
Lime wedges, for serving
Bring two cups of water to a boil. Add the tea bags and steep for six minutes. Discard the tea bags. Add the sugar and two cups of cold water and refrigerate until chilled.
To serve, pour one part herbal tea to one part beer in a glass and garnish with a slice of lime. Offer the remaining beer in the can or bottle along with the drink so guests can top off and adjust as they like.
…and here’s a more sweet-tart option for those of you who have access to dried hibiscus.
First Blush Hibiscus Blossom
Popular in Latin American and the Caribbean, drinks made with hibiscus flowers are tangy, colorful, and invigorating. Dried hibiscus (called “sorrel” in Jamaica) is available in natural foods stores and Latin American markets. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add 1 cup dried hibiscus, remove from heat, and let steep for four hours. Strain, add sugar to taste (we recommend about half a cup) and chill. To prepare a drink, mix one part hibiscus drink to two parts light-bodied pilsner. Garnish with a lime wedge.
By Sara Bir