The Third Place Cocktail Co. will not rest on their laurels (or elderflowers, or lemon grasses). After their initial (and stupendous) Tonic they just couldn’t leave the non-gin drinkers dry and went on to produce Ginger Rose and Elderflower for whiskey and vodka cocktails.
But what about the beer drinkers? What about the children?! It is now high cabin and patio season and beer is having a renaissance moment in Newfoundland with new breweries popping up like lupin along the byways.
Dan Meades and Kristopher Smith, the master flavour-makers behind The Third Place, have cracked the radler code. A radler is the german cousin to the english shandy. Both are part beer and part lemonade or soda. There is a wide variety, but radlers are citrus-y, a little sweeter than plain beer, and generally have a lower alcohol content.
The Third Place’s newest product has nailed the citrus, brought sweet out more as a flavour or spice than a sugar, and has completely solved that low alcohol problem. It comes as a concentrate and is added, one shot per yer beer.
Like their other products, this is meant to be a simple addition to your alcohol of choice. Their radler works best in light lagers, pilsners, or wheat ales. If your beer is already bitter or hoppy the radler can emphasize that; it’s still delicious but quite a specific pleasure.
With a lighter beer the result is bright and pleasing. Meades and Smith have taken two dozen ingredients from around the world and spent the larger part of a year perfecting how to treat each to best suit its inherent grace. Meades describes it as “citrus, floral and herbal … we do an awful lot of the work for you.”
They use all parts of four citrus fruits (grapefruit, orange, lemon, lime) with a special cold steeping process for the zest. The cinchona bark base originated for their classic tonic is still there, but citrus is the body, with the fruit joined by lemon verbena, lemon balm and lemongrass. Like a perfumer, these guys layer the flavours and smells in non-intuitive but ultimately cohesive ways.
Vervain has serious sunny day cred since it, like earth’s yellow sun itself, repels vampires, and also bedstraw (hay) and hops flowers for a visceral evocation of summer. There is wintergreen and eucalyptus to refresh as you drink, and leaves of black currant and raspberry.
To add warmth and sweetness on the tongue without having to make it a “sugar bomb” Meades explains they used fenugreek, which breastfeeding parents know as a supplement that increases flow and makes your sweat smell like maple syrup. This may sound like a good-witch’s medicine but, all told, it tastes like a monk’s dream.
Like their other products, it can be used with just soda water for a non-alcoholic treat; unlike their other products, it isn’t as good on its own as a tiny sip of magic elixir. To punch a whole pint with flavour the Radler is quite concentrated. After trying it properly mixed into a cold pint, and also casually topped into a tallboy tinny of MGD as I floated downriver on an inner-tube, I suggest proper ratios and stirring. But it does make a cheap beer hit the high notes.