Remix: The radler might be the perfect Fourth of July cocktail

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Remix: The radler might be the perfect Fourth of July cocktail
Photos by Jessica Bryce Young

I'm not saying that summer is an excuse to be lazy; I'm just saying, when the heat index says it feels like triple digits and you're swimming through 100 percent humidity, it's smart to conserve energy.

So I'll have no objections if you skip the labor-intensive part of this month's Remix. After all, I myself chose one of the easiest drinks around to remix. You can barely call it a cocktail – in fact, no one can quite agree on what it is called. Shandy, radler, who really cares? It's easy to make and easier to drink, and it's ultra-quenching and low-ABV. Those are four very attractive qualities at, say, an outdoors barbecue.

If you want to get technical, a shandy is a mix of beer with soda – could be carbonated lemonade, could be Sprite, could be ginger beer or ginger ale – whereas a radler is a mix of beer with a citrusy element – grapefruit, orange, lemon and/or lime. Purists will say that the non-alcoholic part must be carbonated, but plenty of bars and beer producers mix lager or pilsner with juice or lemonade and it comes out just fine. And that's the take-home point: Don't sweat it. Just mix a crisp blonde beer with something citrusy, and you're good.

You can see from the photo that I tried a variety of both beers and juice additions: a hefeweizen, a witbier, a straight American lager; various San Pellegrino sodas (lemon, grapefruit, blood orange); fresh-squeezed lime, homemade lemonade and even homemade Key lime soda. All of it was pretty good. The Key lime soda mixed with Cigar City Cracker (a Belgian-style white ale) was pretty great. So that's the recipe you're getting here, but by all means, crack a PBR into some Country Time if that's what you've got time for (or buy any of the several excellent pre-made shandies and radlers available commercially). I won't judge.

lager, pilsner, hefeweizen or witbier
lemon soda or lemonade
Mix equal parts in a pint glass. Serve.

3 ounces Key lime syrup
9 ounces sparkling water
12 ounces witbier (like Cigar City Cracker or Hoegaarden)
Fee Brothers grapefruit bitters to taste
First, make the syrup: Boil 1/2 cup Key lime juice (available bottled, or squeeze your own) and 1/2 cup sugar together until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid has thickened slightly. Set aside to cool. (Putting the pan in an ice bath can speed that up.)
Gently mix the syrup into cold sparkling water – now you have Key lime soda. Pour half into each of two chilled pint glasses and top each glass with beer. Throw a few dashes of grapefruit bitters on top, and serve.

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