Why It Works
- Maceration allows lemon rinds to express their natural oil, creating a more aromatic and flavorful drink.
- This no-cook technique dissolves sugar without any need for firing up the stove.
- Weight measurements ensure the perfect ratio of sugar to citrus, despite natural variations in fruit size.
- Mixing beer and lemon soda at a 3:2 ratio yields a drink that balances grainy and hoppy flavors with the sweet, tart lemonade. You can adjust to your personal taste.
A radler is a classic mix of beer and carbonated lemonade (also known as a shandy); order one at some bars in Germany and you'll get a blend of beer and 7-Up or Sprite. But the best, brightest-tasting version starts with fresh lemons. This one takes it a step further by starting with a deeply flavorful homemade lemon syrup that's infused with both fresh lemon juice and the citrus oil from lemon rinds.
- For the Sparkling Lemonade:
- 3 pounds (1.3kg) lemons (10 to 14 medium lemons)
- 14 ounces sugar (2 cups; 400g)
- 24 ounces cold sparkling water (3 cups; 700ml)
- For Each Radler:
- 9 ounces chilled beer (265ml), such as pilsner
- 6 ounces sparkling lemonade (175ml)
For the Sparkling Lemonade: Bring lemons to room temperature, then roll firmly against the counter to soften their rinds. Halve and juice; pour juice into a sealable container and refrigerate. Cut rinds into 1-inch chunks. Toss with sugar in a large nonreactive mixing bowl, cover tightly with plastic, and let stand at room temperature, stirring once every 45 minutes or so, until sugar has completely dissolved, about 3 hours. (You can let the mixture stand up to 12 hours, if desired.)
Add 10 ounces (1 1/4 cups) of reserved lemon juice. Stir well, then strain through a nonreactive fine-mesh strainer or piece of cheesecloth into a glass or ceramic container. At this point, the concentrated lemon syrup can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.
When ready to serve, add sparkling water to concentrated lemon syrup. Adjust to taste with additional sparkling water or lemon juice; bear in mind that a tart lemonade tastes best when mixed with beer.
For Each Radler: Add beer and Sparkling Lemonade to a 16-ounce pint glass. Serve immediately.
Cheesecloth or nonreactive fine-mesh strainer, 2-quart pitcher
Crisp pilsner makes for an especially refreshing radler, but you can also use your favorite hefeweizen or even a bitter IPA.