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Adult Snow Cones: Strawberry Mint, Blueberry Raspberry and Carrot Rosemary / Courtesy of Casa del Mar
Spiking childhood refreshers like slushies and snow cones is nothing new, but craft bars now treat these drinks like real cocktails.
In Santa Monica this summer, the beachside Hotel Casa del Mar began selling Adult Snow Cones, refreshing granita-style cocktails that reflect the ingredient-driven cocktail trend championed by the West Coast. Growing up in Italy, food and beverage director Simon Sopresi spent his summers with bowls of lightly sweet granita made with fresh fruit as opposed to paper cones full of gravely neon-hued ice. Served in glasses with spoon straws that recall 7-Eleven Slurpees, Sopresi’s spiked snow cones at Casa del Mar merge the brightly colored, lip-staining American style with the more natural ices of his childhood.
Familiar flavors like Blueberry Raspberry are upgraded by fresh fruit syrups and many offerings are more complex. The Apple Grape flavor combines Pisco with Snap (a ginger-flavored liquor) and house-made apple-grape syrup.
Some of the best boozy ice drinks in the country are being made by a bar that's had just under a year of practice. The Tippler in Manhattan came up with a brilliant nickname for the chilly cocktails it introduced last September: Lushies.
"The inspiration for the Lushies came from many days and nights spent tippling at beach bars in various parts of the world," says consulting mixologist Tad Carducci of the Tippling Brothers. "A toe in the water, smelling coconut, with the sound of blenders churning frantically around me. What was being dumped into those blenders was rotgut rum and Day-Glo slop from a gallon jug, but whatever the particular mix might have been, it was always delicious [in that atmosphere]."
There's no rotgut at the Tippler. The complex, nearly savory Wise Cold Sage blends white rhum agricole with spiced orange liqueur, fresh grapefruit juice, cane syrup and sage. The Spazerac—rye whiskey, sugar, Peychaud's bitters, absinthe—takes inspiration from a legendary classic and was one of the only slushies that gave Carducci second thoughts. "I was admittedly a bit trepidatious about putting the Spazerac on the menu, thinking that the [cocktail] geeks would tar and feather me," he says. "Thankfully, it has been very well received."
Yopparai, New York The small, Lower East Side sake bar transforms a classic Asian dessert, shave ice, into a spoonable cocktail. The snowy ices are topped with flavored sakes: tangerine, plum and yuzu.
Momofuku Noodle Bar, Booker and Dax, New York David Chang’s mini restaurant empire offers two different icy cocktails. At the Noodle Bar, the shojo slushies served with wide straws come in two flavors: Sangria topped with golden raisins and Orange Creamsicle. At the cutting edge Booker and Dax, the BDX Marg is shaved ice topped with smoky mezcal, yellow chartreuse, Cointreau and lime juice.
Artusi, Seattle During the summer, the Italian bar offers “artisanal slush” in rotating flavors like the tart Glass Lizard (kaffir lime gin, ginger, lime juice and cucumber) and the bittersweet Pink Hook (rye, grapefruit juice, Punt e Mes vermouth and maraschino liqueur).
St. Lawrence, New Orleans In a nod to the city’s tradition of supersweet frozen daiquiris, the French Quarter bar serves its own version of the typically saccharine dessert drinks made with fresh fruit. The gin-based Mississippi Blueberry gets a fresh twist from basil, while the Alabama Peach upgrades its fruit with vodka and Champagne.