Cocktails: Honey Bourbon Shandy

The shandy is as classic as it gets when it comes to summertime drinks. The old standby 50-50 mix of light beer and lemonade is everything that a good lake, bbq, or grad party drink should be: quick and easy to make, light and refreshing, and most importantly tasty. And while the classic shandy is perfect for tossing a few back over the course of a hot day in the middle of July, I often find myself looking for that delicious shandy flavor profile with little more of a kick to it. And by a little more of a kick, I mean a little more bourbon.   

This Honey Bourbon Shandy does just that. With honey and lemon juice taking the place of the lemonade you would find in a traditional shandy, along with the addition of bitters and bourbon for a bit of a bite, you could almost think of this as somewhat of an “imperial” shandy. Not quite as well suited for an afternoon out on the boat, but perfect for an evening around a bonfire or a night in watching a baseball game from the couch. Since the final drink is still about 80% beer, you’ll want to stick with something that you enjoy drinking on its own. A solid craft lager – like Founders Solid Gold or Sun King Pachanga – works best in my opinion, but I’ve also had success with IPAs and Wheat beers. I’d advise steering clear from stouts and porters though…

A word of caution: These certainly have the potential to sneak up on you if you’re not careful. Unlike a traditional shandy, where cutting the beer with an equal measure of lemonade results in a significantly lower abv, the added bourbon here is going to do the opposite. Even just one ounce of bourbon is going to raise the ABV of your beer by 3-4.5% depending on the proof. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very much a bottled-in-bond, imperial IPA kind of guy, but this is one drink that I’d recommend sticking to an 80 proof bourbon and a 4-5% abv beer.


Making the Drink



  • 12 oz Lager (or your beer of choice)

  • 1 oz Bourbon

  • ¾ oz Honey Syrup

  • ¾ oz Lemon Juice

  • 3-4 dashes Angostura Bitters


Preparing the Honey Syrup: Mix equal parts honey and boiling water. Stir until fully dissolved and refrigerate until chilled.




  1. Combine lemon juice, honey syrup, bitters, and whiskey in a pint glass and stir.
  2. Slowly pour 12 oz lager into a pint glass. Stir gently, taking care not to let the beer foam over.
  3. Garnish with a lemon wheel.


If you’re looking to mix it up a bit, try using a different beer style. Keep it pretty light – a wheat ale, Belgian single, or even a session IPA would probably work really well with the same recipe.



Blake Smith



Jordan GrigsbyComment