Ice Cool Cocktails
By Babs Rodriguez
Photos by Meda Kessler
As kids, walking or biking to the neighborhood convenience store for a slushy was a rite of summer, the salute to the end of any long, hot day.
So what if the tar on the streets stuck to your flip-flops or, worse, the sidewalk burned your bare feet. A sweet and sugary slurry of ice cooled you down from the inside out. We like to believe our palates are a bit more sophisticated these days, but because summer days are just as long and maybe hotter, slushy adult cocktails are still the thing to readjust an internal thermostat.
Think beyond the frozen margarita — whether you prefer sweet and fruity or something on the tart side, the possibilities for happy hours are endless with whiskey, vodka, gin or even champagne-centric concoctions. A commercial-grade frozen drink machine is a plus for whirring up big batches of cocktails, but most can easily be made in a blender. One caveat: Drink any of them too fast and you’ll remember that brain freeze is still a thing, too.
Cucumber Gin Slush
Makes enough to fill a good-sized pitcher
- ½ cup gin
- ¼ cup limoncello
- 2 cups lemonade (or ginger beer)
- 1 to 2 medium Persian cucumbers, peeled and seeded (thinly slice half of one for garnish)
Sea salt (see Note) Combine gin, limoncello, lemonade, cucumbers and ice in a blender. Make in batches if want a very slushy drink. Blend well and pour into glasses. Garnish each glass with a thin round of cucumber.
Note If you like salt on the rim, dip the top of each glass in a bit of water and then press inverted glass into a shallow mound of salt on a plate.
While the food at Loro is exceptional, the Asian smokehouse and bar from top chefs Tyson Cole and Aaron Franklin is one of our favorite stops for an adult beverage, especially a grown-up slushy. The frozen Vietnamese coffee cocktail, with its mix of chicory coffee sweetened with condensed milk and bourbon, can also be a nice substitute for dessert (at Loro, you can add a scoop of ice cream). Other options include a frozen gin and tonic, a mojito or a mango sake slushy.
Loro, 1812 N. Haskell Ave., Dallas, 214-833-4983, loroeats.com
Frozen Vietnamese Coffee
Makes about 5 drinks
- 1 cup bourbon whiskey
- ¼ cup coffee liqueur
- 1½ cups coffee (preferably Café du Monde)
- ¾ cup plus 1 to 2 tablespoons (to taste) sweetened condensed milk
- ½ cup brown sugar syrup (¼ cup brown sugar and ¼ cup water)
- Coffee grounds, for garnish
Place all ingredients in a blender except coffee grounds. Start with 3 cups of ice and pulse until smoothly blended. Add ice (and continue to pulse) as needed to get a slushy consistency. (You may have to make in batches.) Pour into glasses and garnish with coffee grounds.
This frozen version of a French 75 cocktail from Courtside Kitchen chef Christian Lehrmann is the star of our summer happy hour. Ask for it in a bar glass rather than the house plastic cup, and enjoy it with a sizzling hot order of fried pickles. They make it in large batches using a commercial machine; we’ve broken it down for your home patio pleasure.
Courtside Kitchen, 1615 Rogers Road, Fort Worth, 682-255-5751, courtsidekitchenfw.com
- 1 cup citrus and black tea simple syrup (see Note)
- 2 ½ cups gin (Courtside uses Aviation)
- 2 ¼ cups fresh lemon juice
- 2 cups sparkling brut
- 1 ¼ cups St-Germain Elderflower liqueur
- Dehydrated or fresh thin-sliced lime wheels for garnish
Note To make simple syrup, add 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar and 1½ teaspoons blood orange-black tea leaves to a saucepan. If you cannot find this exact loose leaf tea mix, use 1 Constant Comment tea bag. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, let cool and strain. To make the slushy, mix all ingredients except lime wheels in a large blender. Pour into a tall glass, garnish and serve.