Summer shandies

Beer is the base of summer drinking

A cold beer is as much a totem of summer as fireworks or sunscreen: Refreshing but low in alcohol, it's a simple, commitment-free pleasure.

Building on its attributes, bartenders are turning to beer as the base for summer drinking, and the results–mostly in iterations of the lemonade-beer ratio called a Shandy–have been magnificent. Here are the versions we're drinking:

Uncle Boon's, New York: This buzzy new Thai restaurant stretches the limits of its beer and wine license with creative, low-alcohol cocktails. The Tamarind Shandy, made with tamarind syrup, pomelo bitters and Barrier Brewing Company pilsner, offers respite from the food's delicious brashness.

Paper Plane, Atlanta: On the menu of this new bar from Paul Calvert is a beer cocktail that reads like a bitters challenge. Called the Blue Jay, it contains rye beer that's bolstered with Fernet Branca, Amaro CioCiaro, lemon juice and Angostura.

Wit & Wisdom, Baltimore: Combining all that is good about a Baltimore crab boil, the Eastern Shore Shandy incorporates Old Bay syrup with pilsner, lemon juice and vodka.

MC Kitchen, Miami: Bartender Marcus Wade uses an infuser to make the Mr. Hoopdriver (see the recipe), an herb-steeped blend of pilsner and lemon soda. Wheels of cucumber provide fresh balance.