Word of the Week: Radler [ˈʁaːdlɐ]

Noun. 1. A cyclist. Stems from radln, an alternate term for “cycling” in Austria and southern Germany (as opposed to the High German radfahren). 2. A refreshing beverage made from one part beer and one part lemonade. Extremely popular during the summer months as a thirst quencher, the name derives from its initial popularity among cyclists and other amateur athletes; as it’s inadvisable to drink heavily and ride, a mildly alcoholic alternative to the traditional Krügerl was very welcome – particularly as it also makes the full-bodied beers popular in central Europe lighter and more palatable during a heat wave.

Documented since the early 20th century, it was inspired by similar drinks from the UK like Shandy; still there are several colorful origin stories. One of them states that the Bavarian innkeeper Franz Kugler invented the drink out of necessity: Running low on beer on a scorching day in 1922, he simply stretched his reserves by diluting them with lemonade, serving the drink to the many cyclists and day trippers arriving at his establishment just outside Munich. 

Either mixed at the tap or sold readymade in bottles, today, the soft part of the drink varies widely by region, with everything from Himbeerkracherl (raspberry soda) to grapefruit juice added instead of the classic lemonade. There are even non-alcoholic versions, though some would argue that this defeats the purpose. Two particularly popular local mixers are Almdudler (a popular Austrian soft drink flavored with herbal extracts) and Holunder (elderberry).

No matter how well you speak German, the Word Of The Week will help you impress any Viennese! While learning German is not an easy task in general, learning the language in Austria can come to be twice as complicated.

Strongly linked to local cultural individualities, the slangs change and evolve in all cultures around the world, the words and phrases make sense only when one is familiar with their cultural context. The Word of the Week is here to help you understand those singularities and impress the locals with some real Viennese words and expressions.

The Word of the Week can also be found on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Spread the word!

Leave a Comment