Your Weekend Cocktails

   Happy Labor Day! As the name implies, this three-day weekend is homage to all the hard work Americans put in day after day. And dagnabbit, we should be celebrated, we’re a hard working lot. So this weekend is all about enjoying the time off, hanging with friends and family, and imbibing on a few. But what, pray tell, will you be dumping down the gullet? I contend beer makes for the perfect Labor Day weekend bevvy. But instead of simply icing down a few cases and getting started, lets attempt a more measured approach and mix up some beer-based cocktails.


Friday Happy Hour: Shandygaff vs. Shandy vs. Snakebite

   “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” No, this is not A Tale of Two Cities. It is, however, a cocktail Charles Dickens once called “an alliance between beer and pop.” The Shandygaff (sometimes Shandy Gaff or just Shandy) is a super simple beer cocktail originating in the UK, which is half beer, half ginger beer (ginger ale or citrus-flavored soda like 7-Up, depending on your preference). In the United States, the cocktail has taken a citrus twist. Better known as the Shandy, the ginger beer/soda has been substituted for cold lemonade. Both versions are tasty and simple to make, so we’ll supply recipes from both sides of the pond.

   For the purposes of the Shandygaff (UK version), I prefer a German-style pilsner (Victory Brewing Co.’s Prima Pils is a personal favorite). As for the US version, I am partial to hoppy IPAs (Cigar City Brewing’s White Oak-aged Jai Alai IPA is awesome if you can find it)—the lemonade takes a lot of the bite out of the IPA’s bitter hops.

    For a more potent version, substitute the ginger beer for a cider and you’ll have a Snakebite. Shandygaff - beer cocktails - Victory Brewing - Prima Pils - Fentimans Ginger BeerAgain, there are differences in recipe depending on what side of the Atlantic you may be standing, but here in ‘Amurica,’ we like a stout (Left Hand Brewing Co.’s Milk Stout!) mixed with our cider (try Kelly’s Traditional Cider—made here in Florida and tastes a-okay).


Shandygaff (UK version)

Pour ginger beer into a tall pilsner glass. Carefully pour pilsner into glass. Garnish with orange peel. Enjoy!

The Shandy - beer cocktails for Labor Day - Cigar City Brewing White Oak-aged Jai Alai IPA - lemonade


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Shandy (US version)

  • 12 oz. White Oak-aged Jai Alai IPA (Cigar City Brewing), chilled
  • 4 oz. lemonade

Pour lemonade into a tall pilsner glass. Carefully pour beer, give a light stir and enjoy.


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  • Snakebite - beer cocktails for Labor Day -Left Hand Brewing Co. Milk Stout mixed with Kely's Traditional Cider

    Half pint of Milk Stout (Left Hand Brewing Co.)

  • Half pint of Kelly’s Traditional Cider

In a pint glass, pour in cider. With a downturned spoon over the glass, pour stout slowly over the back of the spoon allowing the beer to run down the sides of the glass creating a layered affect with the cider. Some top with a splash (1/4 oz.) of blackcurrant liqueur; to each their own. Raise a glass and cheers!


Saturday is for Football!

   This Saturday, college football revs the engine and drops into fifth (Go Noles!), so a tailgate-esque cocktail is in order. But what to make? Simplicity, quantity and mass appeal are key when tailgating, not too mention mass amounts of alcohol (NCAA stadiums don’t serve booze, drat). Everyone loves margaritas, and in light of our beer-friendly cocktail theme, spike that punch bowl with some cerveza for a beer-heavy margarita!

 Beer-Margarita - Beer cocktails for Labor Day - Pacifico lager with 1921 Tequila Anejo


   Yields roughly 12 8 oz. servings

Combine first four ingredients in a large punch bowl (small cooler will work at the stadium parking lot), stir and chill (chill before hand if tailgating). Before serving, add chilled beer and stir gently. Serve in a chilled beer glass; garnish with a lime wedge if you’re feeling fancy.


Sunday Funday: Breakfast Beer for the Masses

   In the land of beach brunches and poolside soirees, the mimosa reigns supreme. But what’s more bourgeois then sipping champagne, we are saluting the working stiff here after all. So beer-i-fy that mimosa, substituting the champagne with a citrusy Belgian witbier. Weyerbacher’s Blanche is great but seasonal, so grab a few before they disappear from the shelves. Beer-Mosa - beer cocktails for Labor Day - Belgian-style witbier - Weyerbacher BlancheOrange juice is the perfect compliment to this style of beer, which often contains coriander and orange peel in the recipe.



  • 12 oz. Weyerbacher’s Blanche (Belgian witbier)
  • 4 oz. fresh squeezed orange juice

 Pour orange juice into glass, top with beer. Salute!


Monday Mourning

   The classiest of all beer cocktails, the Black Velvet originated at the Brooks’s Club of London in 1861 to mourn the death of Prince Albert. In our case, we’re pouring a few of these bubbly concoctions to mourn the passing of our three-day weekend. So crack open a Guinness, Black Velvet - Beer cocktails for Labor Day weekend - Guinness and champagnepop your favorite bubbly and carefully (there will be plenty of head if you are not careful) pour a glass for the lost weekend.


Black Velvet

  • 3 oz. Guinness
  • 3 oz. champagne

Fill champagne flute halfway with Guinness—carefully. Top with champagne—carefully. Drink. Repeat.



* For all the craft beer mentioned above, head to Total Wine & More.

If you would like to nominate a cocktail recipe to appear in our latest series “Weekend Cocktails,” email the online editor here.

Your Weekend Cocktails for August 31 - Cocktials made with beer for Labor Day weekend


Tools of the Trade

Become a master mixologist, or at least look like one, with the tools that make the trade.

Your Weekend Cocktails - Tools to Make a Pro - Williams-Sonoma


  • Muddler: This little tenderizing stick is a godsend and a must for any home bar. If fruity cocktails are in your future, the muddler is the only way to unlock fruits’ flavor.
  • Handheld Citrus Juicer: Nothing beats freshly squeezed juice, but it can be a pain. Invest in a handheld citrus juicer; they are cheap and do the trick tout de suite.
  • Cocktail Shaker: Don’t be a chump stirring your martini like a noob; purchase a nice shaker and become a master home barkeep.
  • Jigger: This little apparati will make mixing the perfect drink as easy as pie. It’s equipped with 1½ oz. and ¾ oz. cups for perfectly measured pours every time.

*Pictured available at Williams-Sonoma

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