Thanks to the cocktail renaissance, slushies have come a long way from sticky-sweet convenient store staples. With fresh and housemade ingredients, bartenders all over are embracing frozen drinks as the perfect summertime libation. Below, 20 creative cool cocktails from coast to coast.
Location: 3400 Around Lenox Road NE, Atlanta, GA
Bartender: Madison Burch
Cocktail: Mean Girls ($12) with Laird's Apple Brandy, Fresno chili-infused red wine, lime juice, orange juice and Dry Curaçao.
A sangria is already the ultimate patio beverage but freezing it takes the drink to another level. "Making the drink into a slushie cuts down on the piquancy of the chili-infused wine," says drink creator Madison Burch, "so you can be more flexible with the flavors." Plus, unlike a sangria chilled with ice, the slushie maintains the same potency and flavor as it melts.
Location: 131 N Main Street, Davidson, NC
Bartender: Blake Pope
Cocktail: Take Two of These & Call Me Amaro ($12) with Fernet-Branca, St. Germain, light simple syrup and fresh lime juice.
Kindred, 25 miles north of Charlotte, North Carolina, takes the long, slow way to make its cocktail slushies. First the restaurant batches out the cocktail in beakers, freezes them for 24 hours, then micro-purees each serving with a PacoJet. "It makes an incredibly refreshing slushie that acts as a digestif," says general manager Blake Pope. "It doubles as a boozy cocktail and bright and bitter dessert."
Location: 730 W Grand Avenue, Chicago, IL
Bartender: Harrison Gingsberg
Cocktail: Frozen Mai Tai ($11) with Bacardi 8, Rhum Clement Agricole, lime, housemade orgeat and Cointreau.
A Mai Tai that's even more refreshing as a slushie. But take caution when sipping on this dangerously quaffable cocktail as it is super boozy.
Location: 201 E Delaware Place, Chicago, IL
Bartender: Whitney Morrow
Cocktail: In Love With the Coco ($14) with Dark Matter cold brew coffee, coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk and añejo rum.
This icy caffeinated cocktail is like a Thai iced coffee spiked with añejo rum. "It's on the dessert side of the spectrum," says drink creator Whitney Morrow, "but is very refreshing and a great way to start off an evening of drinking."
Location: 2952 W Armitage Avenue, Chicago, IL
Bartender: Charles Schott
Cocktail: Purple Drink ($8) with wine, port, sugar and orange blossom water.
Bartender Schott has turned wine into grape juice with this slushie. And even though the drink is made with all natural ingredients, it takes on a candy grape flavor making it especially conducive to slushie form.
Location: 2049 W Division Street, Chicago, IL
Bartender: Michael McAvena
Cocktail: Mango Lassi ($8) with yogurt, mango, honey, bitters, Jamaican rum, and a garnish of sweet paprika and mint.
This is for those who order Mango Lassis to-go from their favorite Indian restaurant just so they can take the drink home and add booze to it (raises hand). Here, that Jamaican rum funk counterbalances the sweetness of the mango and honey. Add to that the heat of the chili and the cooling yogurt, and it's one fine summer libation.
Location: 1815 Wyandotte St, Kansas City, MO
Bartender: Jason Burton
Cocktail: The Rockefeller ($7.99 for 6 ounces/$11.99 for 12 ounces) with Old Overholt rye whiskey infused with cherries, Cinzano sweet vermouth and Angostura bitters.
Snow & Company likes to use classic cocktails as the base for its frozen drinks. And for this frozen Manhattan, the bar wanted a boozy but refreshing slushie, so bartender Jason Burton infused rye with fresh cherries for 48 hours to mellow out the spirit's heat. The infused cherries are then served as a potent garnish. "It's one of the booziest cocktails that we have so you still want to sip it," warns CEO Jerry Nevins.
Location: 1314 7th Street, Santa Monica, CA
Bartender: Kenny Arbuckle
Cocktail: Lava Flow ($16) with rum, housemade coconut liqueur, pineapple, coconut cream and housemade strawberry balsamic gastrique.
Since co-owner Kim Ng’s favorite cocktail is the Lava Flow (it’s something she looks forward to whenever she visits Hawaii), Cassia naturally had to have one on the menu. So, the restaurant brought in a blender to make regular Piña Coladas, but then bartender Kenny Arbuckle tops the drink with housemade strawberry balsamic gastrique for a culinary touch.
Location: 927 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA
Bartender: Daniel Sabo
Cocktail: Banana Hammock ($13) with Bacardi Black, Diplomático Añejo, Coco Lopez, Ancho Reyes chili liqueur, Giffard banana, pineapple and lime.
LA Chapter switches out its frozen cocktail flavors so frequently that they refer to the beverage as the "Amazing Frozen Drink." But after trying the Banana Hammock, a spicy banana colada, drink creator Daniel Sabo says assuredly that it will be on the menu for awhile. The tropical mix of banana and coconut combined with the spiciness of the Ancho Reyes make it summer vacation in a glass.
Location: 1233 Vine Street, Los Angeles, CA
Bartender: Karen Grill
Cocktail: Red Right Hand ($12) with Aviation Gin, Benedictine, fresh cherry juice, lemon, pineapple and Angostura.
Sassfras Saloon debuted its three slushie machines earlier this year, but it's the Red Right Hand slushie—a Singapore Sling variation named after opening credits of TV show Peaky Blinders—that says "America," thanks to its use of fresh cherry juice.
New York City
Location: 180 10th Avenue, New York, NY
Bartender: Joe Campanele
Cocktail: Frozen Negroni ($14) with Campari, Carpano Antica Formula Red Vermouth, Greenhook Ginsmiths gin, fresh squeezed orange juice and Kelvin Citrus slush.
Executive beverage director Joe Campanele thought the traditional Negroni was too potent for the summer, so he went the sbagliato route (subbing sparkling wine for gin) and teamed up with Kelvin Natural Slush Co. for the ultimate hot weather Negroni.
Location: 27 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY
Bartender: Jeremy Oertel
Cocktail: Brancolada ($10) with Branca Menta, Appleton V/X Rum, pineapple juice, orange juice and coconut cream.
Think minty Piña Colada where the Branca Menta's minty, sweet bitterness does beautiful things with the coconut cream. Originally the bar served the Brancolada over crushed ice, but actually slushifying it pushed the drink's popularity over the top. "When we were able to get a slushie machine it was the first thing we put in there and we haven’t been able to stop serving it yet. Every time we did we got a ton of complaints from our customers," says bar manager Jeremy Oertel.
Location: 302 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
Bartender: Rob Krueger
Cocktail: Aperol Frozémonade ($13) with dry rosé, lemon juice, simple syrup and an Aperol float.
For this Aperol slushie, drink creator Rob Krueger picked a rosé whose blackberry notes complement the bittersweetness of the aperitif amaro.
Location: 119 E 18th Street, New York, NY
Bartender: Christopher Skillern
Cocktail: Avocado-Cilantro Margarita ($14) with a puree of fresh avocado and cilantro, tequila, lime juice, triple sec and simple syrup.
This verdant margarita is an homage to beverage director Christopher Skillern's favorite Tex-Mex spot in Austin, Curra's Grill, "Home of the Original Avocado Margarita." Here the creaminess of the avocado blends with the sharp cilantro and sweet margarita. But for those who want to spice it up, just ask the bartender to throw in a couple of jalapeños.
Location: 713 Washington Street, New York, NY
Bartender: Cody Goldstein
Cocktail: Endless Summer ($14) with watermelon slush, rosé, Sugar Island Spiced Rum, grapefruit juice, lemon and apple brandy.
The Endless Summer watermelon slushie is just the thing one craves on sticky, hot summer nights. Its slush texture mimics the fluffiness of sorbet, and then the cocktail hits with watermelon sweetness, citrus tartness, and spice from the rum. "I also used an apple brandy for richness while the rosé float ties all the flavors together," says head bartender Cody Goldstein.
Location: 2733 NE Broadway, Portland, OR
Bartender: Blair Reynolds
Cocktail: Piña Colada ($10) with creamy coconut, fresh pineapple and Bacardi Superior white rum.
Hale Pele's classic Piña Colada is a perennial crowd favorite. "Fresh pineapple gives it a bit of that acidic tartness unique to only fresh pineapple juice, and rich coconut cream makes it a dreamy taste sensation," says drinkmaker Blair Reynolds, who's also working on creating a bottled mixer version to add to his tropical lineup.
Location: 2001 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego, CA
Bartender: Steven Tuttle
Cocktail: Piña Colada ($11) with Hamilton Demerara Rum, lime, pineapple and coconut.
Bar manager Steven Tuttle sought to make the best Piña Colada possible with the least amount of ingredients, so he went with Hamilton Demerara Rum. "It's rich and super funky," he says. "Pair that with the other fresh ingredients and it leaves you with a well-balanced cocktail; not too sweet, not too tart."
Location: 4612 Park Boulevard, San Diego, CA
Bartender: Trevor Easter
Cocktail: The Slide ($11) with Flor de Caña aged rum, coffee liqueur, cream and Ovaltine.
Park & Rec regulars often order this fun, malty Mud Slide variation alongside tater tots from the Royale With Cheese food stand. Former teenagers and those who have suffered from the munchies are familiar with the allure of dipping the seasoned tot into the slushie. "It's like dipping a French fry into a Wendy's chocolate shake! People like that hot and cold sensation, like apple pie and ice cream," swears barman Trevor Easter.
Location: 3391 Adams Avenue, San Diego, CA
Bartender: Eric Johnson
Cocktail: Coco Monster ($9) with rum, Galliano, lime, fresh orange juice, coconut syrup and cream.
The Coco Monster was first created last year for a neighborhood cocktail competition (which it won), and it has been on Sycamore Den's cocktail menu ever since. "It's a creamy tropical delight that is both as tasty as it is dangerous. The herbaceaous qualities of the Galliano pair deliciously with the rich taste of coconut and the sweet acidity of fresh-squeezed orange juice," says co-owner Eric Johnson.
Location: 3198 16th Street, San Francisco, CA
Bartender: Danny Louie
Cocktail: Dr. J ($13) with rum, orange, vanilla and cream.
This slushie boba cocktail is an Orange Julius but strictly for adults thanks to that rum. The spirit's warm vanilla notes are punched up by the cream and vanilla. Add in that orange juice and it's a mall rat's flashback.