Bartenders are now as likely as chefs to create seasonally changing menus, and summer brings an explosion of frozen cocktails to the drinks list. Among bartenders who reported menu changes in 2016, 41% are offering more frozen cocktails, according to Technomic’s Behind the Bar Insights. Frosty versions of classics such as pina coladas, daiquiris and margaritas remain popular, but lately, drinks like sangria, coffee cocktails and pisco sours are being treated to the deep freeze.
In step with cocktail trends, this new batch of frozen drinks boasts upgraded ingredients and a handcrafted approach. Here’s how operators are bringing the big chill to the bar.
1. Frose leads the way
Last summer, frozen negronis were the new drinks on the block, and slushy machines are still churning them out at many a bar. But this season, frose—frozen rose wine—is all the rage. Most recipes blend a full-bodied rose with raspberry- or strawberry-infused simple syrup to enhance the rosy color and fruity flavor. Dispensing frose from a slushy machine speeds service at The Bonney Read in Asbury Park, N.J., where the drink is served in a wine glass topped with a paper umbrella. But the mixture can also be frozen and whipped up in a blender to order.
2. Spiking the snow cone
The Omni Frisco Hotel in Frisco, Texas, launched a menu of spiked snow cones for steamy days. The adult versions of this childhood favorite feature sophisticated flavors along with a boozy buzz. There’s Watermelon Rhubarb with elderflower liqueur, gin and lime juice; Blueberry Moscow Blue with gin, ginger-infused syrup and lime juice; and Miami Vice with pineapple-infused rum, coconut milk and melon-berry syrup.
3. Bourbon freezes over
This year's Kentucky Derby is history, but Big Jones in Chicago is serving icy riffs on its signature mint julep all summer long. To start off the season, Beverage Director Andy Shay created the Frozen Rhubarb Julep, featuring housemade rhubarb shrub, bourbon, mint and sugar. He plans to tap into other market produce as it becomes available to flavor the farm-to-glass cocktail.
4. Ice pops for Instagram
Some operators are crafting drinks to draw social media attention. At DNV Rooftop in Washington, D.C., Lead Bartender Matt Allred introduced boozy pushup ices called Selfie Sticks—a term that's already trending on Twitter and Instagram, according to a bar spokesperson. The pops come in rotating flavors, with three to an order so guests can share them with friends. Also on the summer list: The Butt Dial Slush and The Pocket Text Slush.
6. Slushy sangria
Customers can opt to sip or spoon up the frozen red sangria at four-unit Cuba Libre. The Latin-themed chain freezes its signature sangria to the consistency of a slightly melted sorbet, adding raspberries and strawberries to pump up the flavor. Also available is Cuba’s signature cocktail—the mojito—in frozen form.
8. Siberian express
Fifty/50 in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood is capitalizing on the popularity of the Moscow Mule by deep freezing the cocktail. Like its classic counterpart, the frozen variation combines lime juice, ginger and vodka, served up in a frosty glass to keep it extra cold.