Summer means outdoor events, and what better way for your guests to chill outdoors than with a blended (aka frozen) cocktail in their hand?
“Especially in warmer climates,” said Abigail Gullo (beverage director at Compère Lapin in New Orleans) in an article for Seven Fifty Daily titled “The Future of Frozen Drinks”, “I think these drinks are great. They’re a continuing evolution of [the industry’s efforts] to take things that have historical context [but have gotten] mass produced and maligned and bring them back to their origins. I hope to see more of that, as well as more mixology that is similarly fun and playful in spirit.”
Black grape margaritas (black table grapes, tequila, and sweet and sour mix). Photo courtesy California Table Grape Commission
Although these refreshingly cool drinks are synonymous with summer, that doesn’t mean they can’t find a place on your bar menu any time of the year. Whether it’s on-premise or off-premise, they’re a great way to efficiently please larger crowds.
Let’s take a spin through the blended cocktail movement.
A cool history
Did you know that ancient Mesopotamians made frozen drinks? According to an article for Tales of the Cocktail, the ancient Mesopotamian kings treasured frozen beverages (particularly made with syrups and pomegranate). Additionally, Catherine de Medici brought a sorbet maker to England in the 1500s and started a frozen treat trend there.
Turn a classic mango biche into a mango biche lemonade frappe (green mango, lime juice, lime zest, mint, and agave simple syrup). Photo courtesy National Mango Board
Although the blended cocktail has been around for thousands of years, they really hit their stride in the 1950s when blenders became widely available to consumers.
“The nostalgia factor of sno cones and other shaved ice treats, the increase in molecular mixology and liquid nitrogen, and staffing challenges in high volume bars are all factors that have played into the current popularity of frozen drinks,” according to an article for Tales of the Cocktail titled “An Ode to the Classic Daquiri.”
In 1979, the owners of a Ruston, Louisiana package store found themselves unable to sell bottles of “Tequila Sunrise” mix. So, they decided to combine the mix with shaved ice and offer it to customers as they were checking out at the register—sort of like candy for grown-ups, according to the Tales of the Cocktail article.
A blend of new and old
Although the classic blended cocktails (daquiris, margaritas, and piña coladas, etc.) continue to be popular go-to drinks to keep guests cool, today’s blended cocktails “have come a long way from the mass-produced, neon-hued daiquiris of yesteryear—and they keep getting better,” says the Seven Fifty Daily article.
Honey Peach Frappuccino (honey vanilla syrup, cold brew concentrate, whole milk, peach puree, and whipped cream). Photo courtesy National Honey Board
Yelp has predicted that even more slushy drinks will be popping up all over the country with exciting new flavor combinations, according to an article for Tasting Table. With a search increase of 77%, it's clear consumers are looking to try some frozen concoctions.
One blended drink that has started to trend (primarily out East) is the “frosé,” which is essentially just frozen rosé wine.
“They’re really delicious,” said Andrea Correale (Elegant Affairs) during her Catersource + The Special Event session (Culinary Inspiration & Trends with Andrea Correale), “and very, very popular in the Hamptons on the island.”
Slushy machines are also becoming an essential piece of catering equipment due to their ease in serving.
When adding blended cocktails to your menu, there are a few unique considerations that need to be considered, such as balancing ingredients and flavors. “Frozen drinks can be really ‘temperamental’ and they ‘get ugly quickly in a glass’ if the ingredients separate,” says the article from Seven Fifty Daily.
Frozen hot chocolate with both a waffle and a doughnut from Brancato’s Catering. Photo courtesy Brancato’s Catering
It’s also suggested to double the amount of sugar in frozen cocktails.
“Sugar is not bad,” Gullo said in the Seven Fifty Daily article. “You need more because of dilution and the water. Sugar is to a bartender what fat is to a chef—it helps to translate and amplify flavor.”
Check out these blended cocktail recipes to help keep your guests cool this summer.
“They can be tasty, with texture and different flavors,” said Jerry Nevins (Snow & Co.) in the Seven Fifty Daily article, “and what I love the most about frozen cocktails are the different sensations you get as they warm up on your palate.”
Recipe and photo courtesy Cocktail.Vision2023©
- Combine all ingredients in a blender with half a cup of ice.
- Blend until smooth.
The Dessert Lily
The official cocktail of Tales of the Cocktail 2022
Recipe courtesy Spencer Warren (Butcher and the Rye) for Chilled Magazine
Photo courtesy Lesley Jacobs Solmonson for Chilled Magazine
- Add all ingredients into a blender with ice. Blend until a frozen slushy.
- Pour into a large solo cup or collins glass. Top with an Amarena Fabbri Cherry.
- If using a large machine, add water instead of ice for freezing.
Spirited Chocolate Covered Cherry Milkshake
Recipe and photo courtesy Kathy Casey’s Liquid Kitchen™
- Swirl the chocolate sauce inside a chilled milkshake glass.
- Spoon the ice cream into the blender. Pulse a few times until ice cream is broken up, then add bourbon, sour cherry pie filling and crumbled brownie. Pulse again until just barely combined.
- Serve in chocolate-swirled glass, topped with a swirl of Chocolate Whipped Cream and a bourbon-soaked maraschino cherry.
Method for Bourbon Soaked Marachino Cherries
Drain the liquid off of a jar of maraschino cherries; cover with bourbon. Let sit for at least 1 week before using.
Ingredients for Chocolate Whipped Cream
- Stir together whipping cream and chocolate sauce. Pour into an iSi Whipper. Screw on top and then charge with 1 iSi Cream (N2O) charger. Lightly shake whipper. Store refrigerated for up to fi ve days.
- Note: you can also whip cream with a whisk and then pipe from a piping bag or use a spoon to dollop on top of milkshakes.
Blended Peach Whiskey Sour
Recipe and photo courtesy Kathy Casey’s Liquid Kitchen™
2 cups ice
4 oz bourbon
1 ea. lemon, skin cut off, quartered
1 cup peaches (you can also substitute frozen, defrosted peaches if fresh are not available)
1½ oz simple syrup
2-3 bar spoons apricot jam
- In a blender, add the ice, bourbon, lemon, peaches, simple syrup, and apricot jam. Blend until the consistency is smooth.
- Pour into two chilled small daiquiri or large glasses.
- Garnish with fresh peach or edible fl owers.
Recipe and photo courtesy Andrea Correale (Elegant Affairs Wedding & Events) for Paste Magazine
- Pour bottle of rosé into a sturdy container and freeze for eight hours.
- Put frozen rosé in a blender with the pink grapefruit juice, simple syrup and strawberries. Pulse until you reach a slushy consistency and serve!
Don't leave your sober clients out in the cold! Here are a few non-alcoholic frozen cocktails to add to the mix!
Recipe courtesy Seir Hill
- Choose whether you want to go with a tumbler or toss everything in a blender. You may also opt to handshake it if that is your preference.
- Put your ingredients into the shaker or blender and let your muscles or machine work its magic. You'll want ice to be a part of the equation, but whether you want it crushed, cubed, or a fully incorporated “frozen colada,” it's up to you.
- Pouring it into a hurricane glass is optional but classy and traditional. This is a whiskey colada, after all.
- Garnish it with a pineapple wedge. It's not much, but it makes a difference, trust us.
Recipe courtesy Seir Hill
- The average daiquiri is enjoyed either mixed or frozen. If you’re going for the kind of Daiquiri mocktail they would’ve enjoyed in Cuba, the drink is simple to put together. All you need to do is thoroughly mix the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice before straining into a chilled cocktail glass.
- If you’d rather blend your non-alcoholic daiquiri into a healthy tropical delight, you can take the same ingredients and pour them into a blender with a cup of crushed ice. Blend until smooth, pour into a glass, and garnish with a wedge of lime.