Lucy is my best friend, and one of the reasons she is my best friend is she knows things. Things you would never even think about, as long as it’s related to food, travel, fashion, music, and alcohol. She has an uncanny sense of cool stuff, before it’s cool. It usually becomes trendy about six months later. She also has a real cool boyfriend, who is British, and has introduced us to proper British things, like a good Pimm’s cup, as well as improper British things, like, well, nevermind.
One afternoon, I meet Lu for a beer. She orders a shandy. What the f*@# is a shandy, I ask. It’s beer with a floater of sprite, she answers, quite sprightly I might add. It’s a British thing, apparently, to throw some lemonade or sprite on your beer in the afternoon as a sort of aperitif/hangover helper. I’m skeptical, but intrigued. Lucy knows things. What if this is a beer trend about to hit it big in the US of A?
Months later I’m in Dean and Deluca, looking for another way to find inspiration and get ripped off. Perusing the bottled sodas/juice shelf, I come across Fentiman’s bottled shandy. It’s 70% beer, mixed with lemonade. If it’s as good as Lucy claims it is, and here it is conveniently bottled, maybe I should try it.
As I tip the glass back, I get the first smell of lemon and instinctively think, ‘this beer is skunked!’ First sip: wow, strange. It’s a tiny bit sour, reminiscent of a cider ale. It’s not beer, nor is it soda. It exists in a whole new class, or perhaps a vacuum. Unlike a pub shandy, the bottled version has most of the alcohol brewed out, so it’s really like an alternative soda, with lots (30 grams) of sugar. I can see how, after one adjusts to the idea, it could be refreshing. I decide Lucy
is probably on to something, but she’s a purist and would scoff at the bottled version, I know it. Next time I hit Spitzer’s for an afternoon beer, I’ll order a proper pub shandy.