Not so long ago, a blender was one sure sign that separated a cocktail connoisseur from an amateur. A frozen margarita was for someone who wanted to drink like a child; a margarita served up, or on the rocks, meant you would be taken seriously by most bartenders (at least for your first few rounds).
Things change. Blenders and even their supercharged counterpart the slushie machine have been installed at several top bars around the country. The groovy lounge Mother's Ruin in New York City has a Daily Slush. At Liholiho in San Francisco, the frozen drink menu includes the crowd-favorite, rum-based frozen Skipper. Even the epic speakeasy PDT in Manhattan is into it. Bar manager Jeff Bell makes batches of classic drinks—this summer it was the Piña Colada; the Dark and Stormy is his fall cocktail of choice—and runs them through the slushie machine at the adjoining Crif Dogs so they're icy, potent and addictive.
- Banana Smoothies
- Mixologist Dave Arnold demonstrates how to make the perfect frozen daiquiri. Hint: It has to do with the amount of water involved.
- Daiquiri Recipes
John deBary, bar director for the New York City–based Momofuku restaurant chain, has an explanation for this new frozen drink phenomenon. "Frozen drinks are having a moment because the cocktail community has started having fun," he says. "In the early years of the cocktail renaissance, in the late ’90s, there was the perception that we needed to maintain a sense of seriousness to reestablish credibility for our craft, after years of Sex on the Beach shots and Long Island Iced Teas." Now deBary has installed a slushie machine at the bar at Momofuku's midtown restaurant Fuku. And guess what he's serving? A frozen Long Island Iced Tea.