Finally, summer seems to have made up its mind to appear – just in time with summer solstice. And, of course, after a winter and spring that lasted a seeming eternity, the abrupt weather change leaves us gasping for what we just left behind: cool and wet. Not necessarily on the outside, but on our inside. As a native German, I grew up with quite a few neat options, some of which you might like to try in the upcoming, hopefully warm summer months.
Let me guess what comes to your mind first when I ask you to name me one cold German beverage. Beer – right? I’ll play along even though this would probably be my last choice as a refreshing beverage on a hot summer day (nights might be different). But I’m not done with placing a slice of lemon in a glass of Hefeweizen. One of my favorites is what in the English-speaking world is called a shandy and what a German would – depending on the region – call a Radler (“bicyclist”) or an Alsterwasser, a mix of equal amounts of beer and lemon soda. If you prefer mixing it with Coke, it becomes a so-called Diesel. Mix some raspberry or sweet woodruff syrup with ale, and it becomes a “Weiße mit Schuss” (white beer with a shot). Basically, the sky is the limit. Some people even love banana juice in their Weizen beer. Personally, I wouldn’t take it THAT far!
Lesser known here in the US is that Germany has some pretty good wine regions that produce quite a few excellent reds and whites. A wine Schorle sour is a mix of wine with bubbly mineral water; mixed with lemon soda it becomes a sweet wine Schorle. It works with either red or white wine; it is similar to a Spritzer, but always freshly mixed and usually can’t be bought bottled or canned.
The term “Schorle” also applies to any fruit juice and soda mix. In itself that is a fantastically versatile mixer when you think of long drinks for a Fourth of July party, too. My husband gave me a soda maker one day, just the kind I used to have in Germany. The fun thing about it is that you never run out of the bubbly stuff, as our (filtered) tap water is very tasty here in Lakewood. And it saves you lugging heavy bottles home from the store or discarding empty ones. A very environmental-friendly way of having your sodium-free “sodas” at home.
Ice coffee is probably the fanciest non-alcoholic classic among German cold beverages. Place a generous scoop or two of vanilla ice cream into a high glass, fill it up with cold, slightly sweetened black coffee, top it off with whipping cream (if you can help it, use the real deal), a wafer, and some grated chocolate – delicious! Of course, this is kind of a meal – therefore you will find this coming in nicely instead of having a traditional coffee and cake.
As a child, of course, none of these were the choices made for me. Not even the juice Schorles because of the amount of sugar juices usually contain. Even today, I mix juices with four parts of bubbly water! Back then, it was lukewarm or cooled off herbal teas for me – rosehip or peppermint. Later, I discovered other herbal mixes and cold fennel tea.
So, if you want to try something out of the usual – why not go for some of these cool German beverages this summer?! You might experiment with mixes yourself – and discover you have created a new favorite of your own!