Normally, when you see a frozen cocktail machine sitting at a restaurant’s bar, you can safely bet that it’s a margarita sloshing between its rotating blades. But recently, barkeeps have begun experimenting with more thrilling concoctions, riffing on sophisticated classics and turning them into sophisticated icy refreshers.
A Frozen cocktail is like a cup of childhood nostalgia—but spiked. The frosty texture imbues a blissful charm while the cooling effect is oh-so satisfying in these sweltering last days of summer.
Here’s a few of our favorites, including the famed Earl’s Premier frozen gin and tonic.
Earl’s Premier’s Frozen Gin and Tonic
In a city full of innovative and masterfully made cocktails, this seemingly straightforward icy gin and tonic is making a name for itself. It’s enchanting, really, because it shouldn’t be as good as it is. The slushie texture manages to round out the usual bitterness found in the classic version and gives it a sweet simplicity, all while still packing a zesty punch.
Earl’s usually has a second frozen cocktail flavor in rotation during the summer, with appearances from classics like Planter’s Punch and Paper Planes.
Enzo’s Limoncello Slushie
Enzo’s limoncello is so smooth and delectable that after one sip, I had flashbacks to visiting the cool blue waters of the Amalfi Coast, where lemons can grow to be the size of your head. Turning the Italian liqueur into a sippable frozen treat just makes sense.
Siblings and Enzo owners Grant and Laura Norris make their own limoncello and are protective of the recipe. However, I was able to get a few lowdown details into their process.
“We don’t use any pre-made slushie mixes,” Grant says. “Instead, it is a combination of limoncello, vodka, lemon juice amongst others. The key is having the lemon peel steep in alcohol for around fourteen days.”
Wild Child’s Kakigori
It feels like a disservice to compare Wild Child’s incredibly creative kakigori cocktail to adult snow cones, but the fundamentals are there. You can recognize the kakigori by its fluffy dome shape, which is created by delicately thin shards of shaved ice made from an ice machine imported from Japan (kakigori is a Japanese dessert and literally translates to “shaved ice”).
Served in a dainty coupe, the drink is pure joy. The seasonal flavor is currently a street corn and mango mezcal, but in true Wild Child style, a non-alcoholic French 75 version is also available.
KC Wine Co.’s Wine Slushes
It’s not officially a cocktail, but I imagine a wine slushie is a fine substitute for most. KC Wine Co. makes what they call wine “slushes” all year long, and this thirst-quencher is quite popular. The winery rotates the slush flavor on a weekly basis, so you’re almost sure to never have the same one twice.
Check the winery’s website (kcwineco.com) to keep updated on what kind of boozy slush you can expect during your visit. Frozen sangria, strawberry wine and peach bellini have all made appearances so far, but the caramel apple flavor that debuts this month has us ready for fall.