Welcome to Frozen Drinks Week on Food Republic. We’re excited to bring you a bunch of stories that will make surviving the summer heat a little more — spirited. For the next five days we will bring you a ton of recipes, mixing tips, gear reviews and stories from the bottom of the blender. Up first is what we’re calling our frozen drinks baseline, penned by our resident tequila expert (among many things), Chantal Martineau. Yeah, you will be hearing a bit about the margarita all week. As well as the…frozen pisco sour? Read on.
Remember the sheer joy you once derived from a Slurpee in the summertime? Multiply that pleasure by a couple shots of rum and you’re in for a refreshing adult treat. Frozen cocktails are a fail-safe way to get the party started and keep it going or just to bring an air of the festive to a hot, lazy afternoon. To make your own at home, follow these simple rules:
Do use a blender. Building your drink in a pitcher then pressing a button to pulse it into chilled boozy puree is not only satisfying, but so easy. Embrace technology.
Don’t think you need a blender to make frozen drinks. What do you think they did before electricity? You can make frozen drinks like mint juleps and rum swizzles using crushed ice. All you need to prepare crushed ice is a mallet and a bag. Place your ice cubes in a plastic bag and mash away until your ice is chipped to bits
Do make the classics: Piña Coladas, frozen margaritas. But make them properly. Piña Coladas are made with lightly aged rum, pineapple juice and coconut milk. Not a crass “Piña Colada mix.” Same goes for margaritas, which should ALWAYS be made with fresh lime juice and good tequila. And skip the triple sec and opt for Grand Marnier instead.
Don’t stop at frozen daiquiris and margaritas of all shades and flavors. You can freeze mojitos, pisco sours, gimlets. Even brunch Bellinis or mimosas.
Do use fresh ingredients, just like you would in any cocktail. That means fresh and seasonal fruit, fresh-pressed juices and maybe even some of those herbs you’re growing in the garden or window box.
Do use frozen fruit as an alternative to fresh. You’ll end up needing that much less ice, which means more real fruit flavor.
Don’t use too much booze or the ice might melt too quickly — and you might find yourself in a puddle, too. As with any cocktail, balance is key. Most cocktails (that aren’t Zombies or Long Island Iced Teas) have between two and three ounces of liquor per serving. Seeing as you’ll literally be sucking your frozen drink down, it’s probably best not to overdo it.
Do use enough booze to properly spike your grownup slushie because otherwise, well, what’s the point of all this?
Don’t use the big, dense ice cubes like the ones that make such great Old Fashioneds in your blender. They’ll ruin it – and make a godawful sound like mangling a spoon in the garbage disposal. Use small cubes or cracked ice instead.
Do use ice cream as an ingredient. Especially if you’re making anything coffee-infused or chocolaty. We’re talking frappes, boozy milkshakes. Even frozen White Russians. Ice cream can also turn a Piña Colada or strawberry margarita into something that tastes like sherbet. And just wait till you’ve had it blended with peaches and bourbon.
Don’t add your ice to the blender until the last moment (before you are going to serve the drink). This way, you can avoid excessive melting and make sure you have the correct ratio of ice to booze, juice, fresh fruit and whatever else is in there. Best to start with about one quarter ice to other ingredients. If your drink doesn’t come out thick enough, add more ice and blend again.
Do build up the speed on your blender gradually, especially for creamy drinks, which can get over-blended and come out too thin. So, remember, begin on the lowest setting and see where that gets you. Build speed as needed.
Don’t remove the lid before you’re done blending. Duh. (You’d be shocked how many people need to hear this sliver of wisdom.)
Do garnish your frozen drink with something dramatic. Like a big topical fruit wedge, a cocktail umbrella or a lit sparkler like they do in Russia. Be careful with that last one.
Do tap your repertoire of tiki drinks. That Scorpion is calling to you.
Do wear your favorite Hawaiian shirt. Consider it your God-given right as an American — nay, your duty! — to dress as colorfully and festively as you can for the occasion.
Don’t fight the brain freeze that is likely to ensue from sipping frozen drinks. It’s futile.