Kate Krader explains why the blender is a cocktail lover's friend, and shares a great daiquiri recipe.
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.
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.
What all this means is good news for cocktail enthusiasts. Not only can you now proudly drink a slushie-style drink at a bar, but you can easily re-create them at home. In fact, blender-style drinks take less effort than many mixed drinks. No need to worry about your good form while shaking a drink, or if you're stirring correctly. Blender drinks are forgiving—if it tastes like it needs another shot of booze or a little more lime juice, just pour it in and press the blend button.
If you want to get started, here's the frozen coffee-spiked Bananita Daquiri from cocktail king Julio Cabrera of The Regent in Miami. It's a preview from F&W's 2016 Cocktail Book, which comes out next summer. We got so excited about blender drinks, we've devoted a whole chapter to them.
1 1/2 ounces white rum (like Caña Brava or Santa Teresa Claro)
3/4 ounce crème de banane
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1/4 ounce simple syrup
1 ripe apple banana (or 1/2 ripe banana)
2 coffee beans
1 scoop of crushed ice
Combine all the ingredients in a blender. Blend for about 20 seconds and serve into a chilled collins glass.
Garnish with a slice of banana (with skin) on the rim of the glass and short straws.
F&W's new series reveals the best ways to maximize your food year through travel, wine, cooking, tech, style, events and experiences. Use #BESTFOODYEAR on Twitter and Instagram to tell us about the ones you want to try. We'll continue to share more tips with the hashtag throughout the year and want to hear about how you celebrate food every day, too.