The name “Mean Shandy” is a nod not only to the Meantime Brewery, which produced the draft beer that this cocktail was first made with but also to the fact that, with the addition of bourbon, this shandy is far stronger and tougher than the average lager shandy that Brits are familiar with.–Pitt Cue Co.


Actually, it’s possible to just give it a stir with a long spoon, or if you’ve fixed up a whole pitcher, a wooden spoon. You just want to get everything swirling together but not overagitated by keeping the delicate bubbles as intact as possible. You can, if you feeling like showing some cocktail skills, still give it a shake. But please take the advice of the authors. It goes exactly like this: “Shaking carbonated liquids in any quantity presents possible hazards, so make sure the shaker is tightly sealed. Open carefully once shaken.”

Beer from a Budweiser bottle being poured into a glass of mean shandy.


5 / 2 votes
A mean shandy is the bourbon-spiked, updated version of the classic summer drink. A light, fizzy sipper for hot weather but with just a little more punch (and flavor) than your average brew.
David Leite
Servings1 drink
Calories216 kcal
Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes


  • Cocktail shaker (optional); straws (optional)


  • 1 3/4 ounces bourbon
  • 1 ounce Lemonade Syrup
  • 1 1/3 ounces beer, preferably lager
  • Ice
  • Lemon slice, for garnish


  • Pour the bourbon, lemonade syrup, and beer into a shaker with ice and shake. (You can instead use a jar with a lid or a pitcher and a wooden spoon.)
  • Strain the mixture into an old-fashioned glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with the lemon slice and, if you feel so inclined, a couple straws (ostensibly for sipping the shandy faster). Cheers!
Pitt Cue Co. Cookbook

Adapted From

Pitt Cue Co.: The Cookbook

Buy On Amazon


Serving: 1 drinkCalories: 216 kcalCarbohydrates: 23 gProtein: 1 gSodium: 2 mgSugar: 22 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2014 Pitt Cue Co.. Photo © 2014 Paul Winch-Furness. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Loved this mean shandy recipe! We used a Rogue Chipotle Ale (we had nothing else on hand) and it was fabulous. This drink had a serious kick, which was a nice surprise. I was expecting it to be a lighter drink, but one was plenty for me, thanks to the bourbon. The lemon syrup was an amazing addition. Fun summer drink, for sure.

Oh, the sacrifices I make in the name of recipe testing. I’ll have you all know that in order to be perfectly thorough in my investigation of this mean shandy recipe, I made a second shandy to confirm the findings of my first…hic…cocktail. The second test confirmed the first—this recipe’s a winner! Boozy, mildly sweet, and slightly effervescent, it’s a perfect summer sip.

Upon my first read of the recipe, I admit that I was a bit skeptical. It could be because I’m somewhat of a beer and bourbon purist, and the thought of tainting either with lemon syrup was a real stretch for me. In the end, though, the beer (a Long Trail IPA) and the bourbon (Bulleit Frontier Whisky) got along just swimmingly with the made-from-scratch syrup.

Aside from the somewhat fussy measuring involved (in the future, I’ll do the math required to make a batch of these drinks and not make them one by one), the drink couldn’t have been easier to make. I’m a fan.

Beer cocktails can be funny things. The idea of mixing things with beer may not sound that appealing, but in this case it results in a well-balanced cocktail. There isn’t really that much beer in here, so the taste is dominated more by the lemon and bourbon. The beer just gives it a gentle fizz and malty quality. We found it to be a refreshing way to have a bourbon cocktail in the summer. I used Omission Pale Ale and I used the lemonade syrup recipe from this site, but went a bit easy on the sugar since I don’t like my drinks too sweet. We just loved the balance of flavors. It’s a fairly strong cocktail, but if you need to relax in a hurry on a summer’s eve, this is just the ticket.

The mean shandy has the potential to be a really good party cocktail, one which I’m sure you could make a huge batch of for a cookout or something. I used Brooklyn Summer as my beer addition, as it seemed fitting for the theme of the cocktail.

However, I wonder how maybe a slightly heavier beer (Brooklyn Lager, for instance) would’ve been. I wanted it to be more refreshing than it was, as is it was a bit strong and syrupy tasting. To balance the flavors, I topped the cocktail with a little more beer, roughly another 1 1/3 ounces. Luckily I had the lemonade syrup on hand already, so this probably took about 5 minutes from start to sipping.

While I do typically enjoy beer cocktails, and this one is no exception, I feel it was a little heavier than I wanted it to be. I haven’t given up on the mean shandy though; I’ll revisit it.

I just had to try this, because at first, I couldn’t see how this combination of ingredients could possibly be good. But I’m very glad I tried it! The combination of the bourbon and the carbonation from the lager reminds me of bourbon and soda with a much more intense flavor, and the sweetness from the lemonade syrup seems to balance it out and bring it all together. I was surprised at how refreshing this drink is. I already had the lemonade syrup on hand because I’d just made lemonade for the grandkids. All said, it only took about 5 minutes to put the drink together.

Three good ingredients make this drink great. I bought all my components, spent a few minutes prepping, and another moment getting everything in its place. The taste was phenomenal. I used a Texas Red from Rahr made in Fort Worth, Texas.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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  1. We made this concoction in a pitcher when we camped with dear friends, many moons ago.
    Went down way too easy. The formula we used was:

    1-12 oz. can frozen lemonade concentrate
    1 lemonade can of Bourbon.
    2-12 oz cans of beer

    1. That’ll do the trick, too, Janice! Love that you remember the proportions…you know, in case of emergency. Appreciate you sharing, as I’ve got a camping trip with friends coming up…