Mint shandy is a refreshing, lightly alcoholic drink made with lemonade, fresh mint, and mild beer, perfect for a hot summer day. This is a drink recipe I discovered from a Colonial Indian cookbook from the 1800s. It was recommended to British Colonists as a way to beat the heat.
About this Recipe
It is well-known that when the British colonized India, they fell in love with many dishes and flavors they encountered while living there. As a result, many dishes were either wholly adopted into British cuisine or ideas from across Indian cuisine became fused.
One book that explains this period of food history is called “The Indian Cookery Book: A Practical Handbook to the Kitchen in India: Adapted to the Three Presidencies.” It was written in the 1800s and credited to “a 35-year resident [of India],” with no name given. The book was written as a handbook to British people stationed in India to show them what foods they might enjoy with an English palette with the foods available in India.
It’s a fascinating read. One of the recipes recommended by that book is this shandy. It is simple and refreshing. Beer at that time was a little more challenging to enjoy, without refrigeration, and prone to spoilage. Today, shandies are enjoyed not just in India but are widespread across Europe, as well as a related lemon soda flavored drink, the Radler.
Beer – use a mild ale, such as ESB, Amber Ale, or Pale Ale. A lager or hefeweizen could also work well. It’s essential to use a beer that will not overwhelm the other ingredients.
Lemonade or Sparkling Lemonade – sparkling lemonade contributes a nice effervescence, but a flat lemonade also works. Combined, the beer and lemonade form the traditional shandy.
Mint – the secret ingredient of this recipe. Mint and lemonade is a classic combination; my mom makes mint lemonade often. It adds an extra cooling, refreshing flavor.
- Take care not to pour the beer too hard, which would cause it to foam up and fail to leave room in the glass for the lemonade.
- To make for a party, make it in a large batch with equal parts beer and lemonade. I recommend serving it as quickly as possible to avoid the beer going flat; although it is forgiving. If it goes flat, it will still be delicious. To serve 6, combine 3 12 oz bottles of beer with 36 ounces of lemonade in a large pitcher, with a handful of muddled mint leaves. Or make mint lemonade, and wait until serving to combine the lemonade with the beer.
- For extra refreshment, serve over ice.
Mint Summer Shandy
- 8 oz mild ale
- 8 oz lemonade
- 6 mint leaves
- Add mint leaves to a glass and lightly muddle.
- Tilt the glass to gently pour ale over the mint leaves, half filling the glass.
- Fill the rest of the glass with lemonade. Give a short, gentle stir to combine.
- Optionally, top with a splash of ale to create a small head of foam on the top. Garnish with a sprig of mint.