Sauerkraut shandy by Chris Kyles of STK Chicago Credit: Cory Popp

“I’m actually not a fan of sauerkraut,” Chris Kyles says. “I love Reuben sandwiches, but I usually pick off half the sauerkraut.” Damian Arms of the JW Marriott Lobby Lounge challenged the STK Chicago bartender to create a cocktail with the fermented cabbage, which Kyles found to be—well, challenging. 

Locating sauerkraut was the easy part: Kyles picked up a jar from Jewel, choosing Frank’s, the brand his grandmother used to use to make Reubens. “I would always see that jar when it was open in the kitchen, smelling up the entire house,” he says.

His first attempt to make a cocktail involved pureeing the sauerkraut and mixing it with egg white. “It was too viscous, way too thick, and the sauerkraut lingered . . . I was belching up sauerkraut for hours,” he says. “I was trying to hit on this girl at the bar [after work] and I’m just breathing sauerkraut in her face.”

Instead, Kyles made a shandy with the liquid from the sauerkraut jar, hoping that the beer would tame the sauerkraut. “It’s somewhat German-inspired—there’s a little bit of Jägermeister in there, Sam Adams Oktoberfest, sauerkraut.” Other elements of the drink included Grand Marnier, simple syrup, lemon juice, an Amaro Montenegro foam—and a sauerkraut garnish.

Kyles achieved his goal, he says: “You get the sauerkraut taste right away, but it doesn’t linger. I wanted you to taste the sauerkraut, because that’s part of the challenge, but the beer cuts out a lot of that funk.”

Who’s next:

Kyles has challenged Kenneth Griggs of Union Sushi + Barbeque Bar to create a cocktail with lamb jus.

Sauerkraut shandy
1 oz sauerkraut liquid
.5 oz simple syrup
.75 oz lemon juice
.5 oz Jägermeister
1.5 oz Grand Marnier
Sam Adams Oktoberfest
Sauerkraut

Shake with ice, pour into an ice-filled glass, and top with Sam Adams Oktoberfest. Top with Amaro Montenegro foam* and sauerkraut.

*Foam:
1 egg white
1 ounce Amaro Montegro
.5 oz simple syrup
.5 oz lemon
Shake with a single ice cube, strain, then dry shake.