Shandy. And the Dog Days of Summer

The phrase “dog days” doesn’t actually come from our canine friends lolling around in the heat, apparently. It comes courtesy of the ancient Greek and Romans and has more of a celestial meaning than a four legged one. In July, Sirius, known as the “dog star” (because it made up the nose of the constellation, Canis Major, shaped like a dog) would rise at the same time as the sun. Because it was such a bright star, it was initially believed that its energy combined with the sun to create the hottest days of the year – the “days of the dog star.” A theory that was, however,  debunked by someone in the years BC, who noted that it was nothing more than coincidence.

Regardless, these are the days when we are all prone to indulge in the laziness usually reserved for dogs. They are the magical days of the year when time seems to be able to slow itself down under the intense glare of the sun in a cloudless sky, accentuating the need for something cold and refreshing to drink.

Please, let me offer up a nice cold Shandy. It is light and lemony and ridiculously straightforward to make –  because summer requires it so. Shandy is simply a mixture of half beer and half lemonade. There can be some confusion in the lemonade department however, so I’m going to try and explain. I’ll make it quick – far be it from me to add additional stress to a heat addled brain.

In England, lemonade is similar to Sprite or 7-up in that it is carbonated, but is actually a lot less sweet than American sodas. In the US, lemonade generally refers to a flat (non-fizzy), lemon drink. I recently did a taste test to try and determine what works best. The result is that there is no best, per se, just different. Sprite or 7-up each work fine, but both make the drink a little sweeter. In recent years I have taken to using a non-fizzy lemonade (the Simply Lemonade brand is the one I use) and I quite like it like that. The drink becomes less fizzy and is much lighter and lemony tasting. The third option is a French-style lemonade…I used one from World Market which you can see in the photo below.

This kept the drink fizzy without adding as much sweetness as Sprite or 7-up, which lets the beer taste shine a little more. And as far as beer goes, my personal favourite is a Hefeweizen or any kind of light summer ale. But if you’re all about beer, use something darker. Whatever swings your hammock!

And if the outdoor heat is too much and the cool of an air conditioned inside calls your name, take your shandy indoors and watch Dog Day Afternoon. While I have an intense dislike of ’70’s movies as a rule, I make an exception for this one.

Al Pacino plays Sonny, a man who wants to pay for his lover’s sex change operation. Low on funds he decides to rob a bank. Because…why not? Sounds easy enough and let’s face it, we’ve all thought about doing it at one time or another! As to be expected, things don’t go well and a hostage situation ensues accompanied by a media circus. It’s vintage Pacino: complex, intense, irreverent and quirky. And it’s based on a true story, because as our current political climate proves, truth is indeed stranger than any fiction.

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