The Germans and Austrians have their Radler, the French their Panaché, the Spanish have their la Clara, the Mexicans their Cerveza preparada and the Brits their Shandy. Beer and lemonade (ginger beer, grenadine etc.) in its many iterations is perfect this time of year. A perfect match when it is hot outside and you want something to cool you down and satisfy your taste buds without completely knocking you out while you work grill in the sizzle and haze.
My favorite “origins” story is the birth of Radler (Cyclist), attributed to Franz Xaver Kugler, a Bavarian railroad worker turned innkeeper who opened a tavern, toward the end of the nineteenth century, in Deisenhofen up in the mountains near Munich. When, after World War I, bicycle riding became a popular pastime in Germany, Kugler arranged for the construction of a bike trail through the forest, from Munich straight to his establishment only to find himself overrun in June 1922 by some 13,000 cyclists demanding beer. Having almost depleted his stock of brew, Kugler had to “cut” the beer with lemon soda to make due. He presented it to his thirsty customers as a special concoction he had invented to ensure that they made it safely back down the mountain riding their bicycles. Thus was born the Radler.
One mixture that few people have heard of is combining Peroni and Gazzosa (Italian lemon soda). You will find that the light bitterness of the Peroni mixes well with the lemon soda. In Italy it has become harder to find places that serve this summer refreshment, but if you find a bar tender who knows his stuff ask for a Panacea. I think the name says it all. Sit back, wipe your brow and enjoy.