Oh, Ireland. On a warm, sunny day, all is forgiven. The coldest spring on record that we just had? Let’s not speak of it. The past few washout summers? A distant memory. That day last year in July that I looked out my window at yet another cold, rainy day and actually cried? I’m not holding a grudge.
I’m not greedy. I don’t need, or even want, sweltering Continental temperatures. 20°C (70°F) qualifies as a scorcher here and suits me just fine: warm enough to sit outside with a book, maybe even without a jacket. Is a mere 20°C too much to ask for? Well, yes, apparently. Two weeks ago we had the best weather we’ve seen in years and it was “only” in the low 20°s (70°s) — old American me is laughing at how I now consider that to be a heat wave. In the 14 years I’ve been living here, I’ve never seen the beach as crowded as it was that weekend. Just look at that blue! Not a cloud in the sky, not a care in the world.
Such (rare) spectacular summer weather calls for something cold and refreshing to drink. There are the obvious choices — Pimm’s, G&Ts, maybe even an elderflower Bellini — and those are all fine if you just want one or two. But if you’re looking for something to sip over a long, hot afternoon, a shandy is the drink for you.
Beer cocktails are all the rage now, but the old school shandy isn’t getting much air time. In Ireland, a shandy is simply half beer, half lemonade, but check out all the versions of a shandy around the world, from a black shandy in Canada (stout and lemon soda) to a brass monkey in the US (beer and orange juice) or a tango in Portugal (beer and gooseberry cordial). A rock shandy refers to a non-alcoholic shandy, usually half lemon soda, half orange soda. And despite its wimpy image, shandy is a great drink if you’re out for the night and want to pace yourself.
My idea of a perfect summer day is pretty simple: a good book, a lounger, plenty of sun and something nice to drink. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for lots more shandy weather this year.
light lager beer or pilsner
Half-fill a pint glass with the beer, then top up with sparkling lemonade — though you can of course adjust the ratio of beer to lemonade to your own taste. You could also try some of these variations in place of the lemonade: