Category Archives: cocktail

Making shandy in America

Making shandy

Making shandy

A classic for the summer in France, the shandy that we call panaché which literally means « a mix of ». The closest translation I found was shandy, a mix of beer and non alcoholic drink. However you never can get a panaché in a bar nor in any liquor and beer stores. 

Then my son mentioned a « summer shandy » that was sold but it is not a French panaché at all (review to come).

So I went on the hunt of making it at home. Making the perfect panaché or at least the French panaché I enjoy when in France, was really a bit of a hunt — I had to gather the right ingredients which was not as simple a task as it may have seemed. 

The beer, no problem, there are plenty of them, local, cheap or imported, gourmet or expensive from all the countries you can think of. Of course you don’t want to use a gourmet nor an abbey beer for that but rather an ordinary everyday beer. I chose to go with imported beers from Europe figuring I would be closest to the taste. I selected the generic Heineken lager beer and a French lager beer (might as well get even closer to the origins), a 1664 by Kronenbourg (the generic Kronenbourg was nowhere to be found here in New Jersey.)

But the complicated part was the other ingredient, the French limonade, or rather what we consider and call limonade in France. Here it’s nowhere to be found, ever. I have looked for it in the past when the kids were little and now to make the shandy. Not to be confused by what’s called lemonade here, which is a non sparking sweetened lemon juice, what we call a « citronnade » in France.

The closest « limonade » I could think of was a lemon/lime soda such as Sprite and 7-up. Not quite the same as the French limonade but worth a try. It’s lemon and lime, which the French limonade doesn’t have (it’s only a lemon tasting soda).

So I had my ingredients, Heineken and 1664 Kronenbourg for the beers and Sprite and 7-up as makeshift limonades.

Making shandy

Making shandy

I used my son as a guinea pig and for 4 evenings we tried all the combinations : Heineken with Sprite, then Heineken with 7-up then the 1664 with Sprite and lastly the 1664 with 7-up.

The first evening we were quite disappointed by the combination of Heineken and Sprite : too limy. The unwanted lime taste was too be expected but at that level it took away the real panaché taste with this strong lime taste.

The second evening was better, the combination of Heineken and 7-up worked better because the 7-up felt less limy in taste than the Sprite. Better but quite not there yet. 

The third night we tried the 1664 Kronenbourg with the Sprite and again too limy though it felt closer than the combination of Heineken and Sprite. Using a French beer helped, so I ruled out the Heineken for future shandy making. 

So I had high hopes for the last night when we tried the combination of 1664 and 7-up : that was indeed the closest. A tad off, not exactly the panaché taste but close enough and good enough for our expatriates’ enjoyment. 

I keep this combination as my recipe for makeshift panaché when I want to enjoy one on this side of the ocean on a summer day. It reminds me of summers of my youth and my son does also enjoy them as memories of his French summer days. 1664 and 7-up soda, half and half and it works close and good enough. We had this combination tried by a local friend who loved it (he had of course never heard of the real panaché and only knows the « summer shandy » that has nothing to do with a French panaché).

1664 and 7-up, way to go !

Making shandy

Making shandy

Enjoying a mint julep with Penelope Bourbon

Enjoying a mint julep with Penelope Bourbon

A mint julep made with Penelope Bourbon

As far as I remember I have always been a cocktail person : since my early twenties I have enjoyed cocktails, not only drinking them but even better, preparing and mixing them.

However I don’t fancy over complicated cocktails, with too many ingredients, that don’t taste anything precise in the end, neither the sum nor the combination of the ingredients. I like to keep things simple : 2 to 3 ingredients maximum, better with only 2, and sometime some carbonated water or a soft soda to make a lighter or longer drink. Cocktails such as daiquiri, margarita, gin fizz, Moscow mule, dry martini (very dry actually, my favorite, one ingredient and a half plus an olive, that’s for another time) caipirinha, mojito. Usually one spirit, some lemon or lime juice and a carbonated soft drink or soda water. Sometimes a second spirit or a bitter, Angostura preferably. Nothing more. The most complicated one I like — I started with it at the Harry’s Bar in Paris (where this very version of the white lady was created by Harry precisely) — would be the white lady (2 spirits, gin and Cointreau plus lemon juice). But generally I prefer having those simple and straightforward cocktails I mentioned above.

And the mint julep of course.

To keep it simple, I usually follow the Harry’s Bar recipe from their very book, which is as follow: powder sugar with a bit of water and 8 to 10 mint leaves in a highball or any large glass, stir gently to melt the sugar, at the same time it will release the mint flavor from the leaves. Don’t crush nor brutalize the mint otherwise some bitter and green herbal taste will follow which you don’t want of course. Then crushed ice, one fluid ounce of bourbon (roughly 3 cl or one dose using a cocktail jigger (those double conical shaped measures), stir, repeat : crushed ice, another ounce of bourbon stir, repeat depending on the size of your glass. I stop after the second ounce of bourbon but depending on your thirst you could continue. Lastly, float with a dash of bourbon (the actual recipe calls for another yet stronger 101 proof bourbon, the only part of the recipe I don’t follow : actually I float with a generous dash the same bourbon.)

The key ingredient to this cocktail is obviously the bourbon, this is a one-liquid-ingredient cocktail apart from the mint leaves for the taste. There comes the Penelope Bourbon, my new discovery from this year (your can read the full discovery and also the full review).

And yes the bourbon makes a difference ! The bourbon we use in such a cocktail that is merely pure bourbon with some mint leaves does matter indeed : bad taste or bad quality bourbon would make a poor mint julep. As I already enjoyed the Penelope Bourbon as such, plain and straight, it was the most suitable candidate for the perfect mint julep.

Which it was indeed, the best mint julep I have ever had so far !