For a city with such brewery ubiquity (I'm looking at you Ballard), surprisingly few Seattle bars run wild with beer cocktails. Mollusk is certainly an exception: their menu generally has 10 or so booze and brew mashups. A new seasonal addition is the Super Shandy.
Brewmaster and co-owner Cody Morris had been playing with Meletti Amaro and lemon wedges. “It was this really herbaceous lemon aid. I tried that with beer, but I couldn’t get the flavors to work. So I tried orange flavors. I thought we should do something a little more crafty than just add OJ to a beer. That’s not that interesting, nor is it very pretty.”
From that point it was a matter of layering flavors to achieve complexity. He started with fresh orange wedges, then added two orangey liqueurs: rich, smoky-sweet China-China Amer balanced by Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao, which has a “more robust orange flavor.”
Mollusk’s tap list tends toward drier beers, light on malt, but “when people think of a summer shandy, they’re expecting some degree of sweetness.” So he adds simple syrup.
Then he muddles aggressively, unworried about over-extracting the tannins from the orange rind—the curaçao base is sweet and beer naturally bitter, so intense muddling reinforces the natural flavor contrast.
He fills the glass with ice, so you’re “not just drinking beer and booze,” and tops it with Mollusk’s Dexter Daily helles lager (a conservative beer on a taplist known for aggressive oddities, like a Nettle Pale Ale and Squid Ink Schwarzbier).
One of the perks, Morris thinks, of layering similar liqueurs is the drink becomes more modular, so ratios can be adjusted on a glass-by-glass basis. “If you’re making this at home, be pragmatic. Decide how sweet you want the drink.” Even in Mollusk, Morris likes to play to regulars' individual palates. If someone wants it sweeter, he adds more simple syrup, more China-China.
“We’ll do this all summer long. It’s been a popular one, with the sunshine. And it’s fun to say super.”