Years ago, when I was just out of college and a newly minted New Yorker, I went home to Foxboro for the holidays. There was a Blockbuster (remember brick-and-mortar video stores?!) nearby, where my brother once worked, and where we rented all our movies.
When you’re 23, and live with a bunch of your friends in the city, a week in your hometown can get pretty boring. I rented a lot of videos. One night, feeling especially sophisticated and cosmopolitan, I asked the teenage clerk where I could find the Woody Allen movies.
And do you know what he said?
Who is Woody Allen?
Seriously! I mean, I know it’s Foxboro, and I know he was just a kid, but come on. You work in a video store. Woody. Allen.
I’m telling you this story because earlier this week a very similar thing happened. I had an idea to make strawberry-rhubarb lemonade, and then to mix it with a light, crisp beer to make a shandy. It would be pink and bubbly and perfect for spring. I could practically taste it.
So I went to our local fruit and vegetable store, this really cute farm-stand type place that has great produce, and also sells pumpkins in the fall and Christmas trees in the winter. And I asked the first employee I saw if they had rhubarb.
For real. My dream of the perfect strawberry-rhubarb cocktail faded fast. But I’ve watched enough Top Chef Quickfire challenges to know that when you can’t find a specific ingredient you need, get over it, shift gears, and make something else.
I already had strawberries and beer, so I still wanted to make shandies. But I’ve always liked strawberries better with lime than with lemon. The lime made me think of margaritas, which made me think of jalapeño. And thus this drink was born. It’s not the one I set out to make originally, but it is still pink, still bubbly, still perfect for spring, and absolutely delicious.
Make it boozy: Add a shot of tequila. Replace the beer with ginger beer. Salt the rim of your glass.
Make it a mocktail: Swap club soda for the beer.
Make it not spicy: Leave out the jalapeño, obvi.
Strawberry Lime Jalapeño Shandies
- 4 cups water divided
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 jalapeño leave the seeds in if you like it spicy, discard them for a milder heat--I left them in, chopped
- 2 heaping cups sliced strawberries
- 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice about 6 limes
- Light-style beer I used PBR, for serving
In a small saucepan, combine 2 cups water, the sugar, and jalapeño. Bring to a simmer, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool. (The longer you let the mixture stand, the hotter it will get from the jalapeño. I left mine for about 45 minutes.) Strain into a pitcher, discarding the jalapeño.
Meanwhile, puree the strawberries with the remaining 2 cups of water in a blender. Pour through a fine mesh sieve into the pitcher, pressing on the solids with a wooden spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. (You should have just over 2 cups.) Add the lime juice to the pitcher and stir to combine. Chill in the refrigerator.
For each drink, fill a glass with ice. Add about 1/4-1/3 cup of the strawberry lime jalapeño mixture and top with beer.