With the list of the best local craft beers out earlier this week, I started to get a hankering for a nice beer-based cocktail.

I wanted something easy-drinking, tasty, but not too filling as cold-weather cocktails can sometimes be.

I turned to our new digital guru Colleen, a beer aficionado, who mentioned a Ginger-Mint Shandy, (which sounds delightful, and set me off in the shandy direction) leading me to the Holiday Shandy, our cocktail of the week.

Isaac Wedin, Flickr

A shandy, a.k.a. a shandygaff, is not just the name of a bar I used to frequent too often on Tuesdays in my Penn State days. It's also the name for a combination of beer and another non-alcoholic beverage, like lemonade, soda, or juice.

For me, the holiday season between Thanksgiving and Christmas reminds me of certain flavors, one of them being cranberry.

For this kind of combo, a wheat beer is ideal, but the possibilities really are endless.

Colleen suggested Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse, a German white beer as the base. I prefer Belgian white beer myself, like Hoegaarden or Belgian white-style Allagash or the easy-to-find Blue Moon. Work with what you like.

Ingredients:

  • 10 oz. wheat beer
  • 5 oz. cranberry juice cocktail, chilled
  • 1 oz. club soda (optional)
  • mint sprig (to garnish)

Pour the beer into a frosted pint glass. Add the cranberry juice (and club soda, if desired). Garnish with mint. Done.

Obviously you could use more or less beer or juice to suit your taste, but as I said, the possibilities with shandies are really endless!

Switch it up:

Use apple cider instead of cranberry juice.
Use unsweetened cranberry juice (an ounce or two) for a more tart creation.
Use a cranberry lemon-lime soda or cranberry ginger ale instead of the juice.

What are your favorite holiday flavors? Tell us in the comment section below!