There are some traditions that no matter how foul they may seem become impossible to ignore, and in March that means two things: green beer and, in Chicago, a green river (the official Chicago River dyeing takes place Saturday, March 12 at 10 a.m.). Over the next week I won’t be able to step foot into a bar or go about my daily commute to the office or even walk through the street without being brazenly confronted by both. It becomes a classic “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” scenario—it’s time to embrace the green.
Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t improve upon the formula along the way. And there’s no better item to enhance your appreciation of the annual dyeing of waterways and tinting of booze than every Midwesterner’s favorite pop: Green River soda.
The green beer you’re drinking from your local shamrock-bespeckled pub is most likely something like a Bud Light or Miller Lite that’s simply been mixed with food coloring—according to Food & Wine, it’s often blue food coloring, not green, that achieves the best shade because of beer’s golden hue. While adding some color to your shitty beer makes it interesting to look at, it’ll still taste like shitty beer.
On TikTok, Green River distributor Sprecher Brewery offers an alternative to amp up the flavor, a mixture that the brand is calling a Green River Irish Shandy. Simply pick out your favorite light beer, fill a pint most of the way, then add a Green River soda floater on top. The neon green hue will instantly change the appearance of your brew, and the taste of the soda will bring a bright citrus flavor to an otherwise bland beer. It’s like squeezing a lime into a bottle of Corona, with the added fun of more fizz.
If you’re not afraid of a little more sweetness in your cocktails, Green River can also serve as a lime juice substitute to make some of your favorite mixed drinks more festive on St. Patrick’s Day. With Green River, even a drink as sophisticated as The Last Word can become a St. Pat’s Day celebration cocktail, as Eric Munn [a former Onion Inc. colleague!] points out on Twitter.
The possibilities are endless and can be as simple or complicated as you please—Green River with straight tequila is just two ingredients and can still be a superior treat to a stale, mint-colored ale.