The frozen concoction that keeps me hanging on.

By Margaret Eby
May 05, 2020
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During the last couple months of self-isolation, I’ve predictably gone through a lot of pantry staples, namely olive oil, salt, and pasta. But there is one that took me by surprise, and that is tequila. 

It’s not only because my drinking, in quarantine, has increased a good bit. I mean, it sure has. A cocktail at 6 p.m. is the only way to delineate between work hours on my couch and fun hours on that same couch, in that same room, in the same one-bedroom I have been in this whole time save for furtive, anxiety-spiked trips to the grocery store and daily sanity walks to visit my favorite neighborhood tree. It’s also that the nature of my drinking has changed. In normal times, I don’t make cocktails at home all that much. If I have nice liquor, I'll drink a little on ice, or I’ll opt for wine or beer. 

Now that quarantine has changed from an escalation of doom notices into a steady plateau of bad news, I find myself craving novelty, in any available form that will not threaten the health of my neighbors or me. I am grateful for my many privileges, and I know that I have the best possible scenario: my health, a job, no lack of comforts. Nonetheless, it feels as if I’m on a flight that I can never get off. My brain resists latching onto anything too involved, and all I do in my free time is sleep badly and watch sequels of action movies. I am desperate for anything new that I can achieve safely at home. In short: I have gotten very into blender drinks

Blender drinks aren’t exactly the height of sophistication. But let me tell you what they are: Fun. Serving myself a large, weird frozen drink in a novelty cup—my vessel of choice is a ceramic shark—feels like fun. Even if I have to drink it on my work/leisure coach, or maybe on my fire escape, it feels like a small bit of relief from the constant, unrelenting doom. (Before you ask, yes, I have also gotten very into the oeuvre of Jimmy Buffet in this time. Never before did I understand James Buffet as a poet of our collective longing, the splendor of nature, and good times.)

There are many fine frozen drink recipes you could make, like this classy take on a Piña Colada or this Spice & Ice, a.k.a the Spicy Icey, a.k.a. The Spice Ice So Nice You Drink It Twice. But I don’t have the ingredients for many of those, nor am I about to risk the grocery store to get them. Thus my blender drinks have been riding the line between smoothie and frozen tiki drink, and it’s truly not a bad place to be. 

I made a “piña colada” with rum, coconut milk, half a frozen banana, agave syrup, and some abandoned pineapple chunks I found in the freezer, and I was not mad about it. I threw some chia seeds in a margarita-ish drink, plus the juice of a grapefruit I had kicking around, and some cilantro stems for fun, and dang: delicious. As JimJam Buffet sings, “not too particular, not too precise.” Great instructions for both a cheeseburger and a frozen Bloody Mary.

My tequila of choice has been Bribon tequila blanco, which is nice by itself and extremely amenable to weird smoothie compatriots. But it won’t belong before I run out and start making something with that specious bottle someone left at my house in, like, 2015. Blender drinks are very forgiving. They are unpretentious. It’s all going in the blender anyway, my dude. Just add in a handful of ice, blend it around, throw it in your best funny glassware and/or trophy and pretend like you’re on a beach for a second. Put in a cocktail umbrella if you've got one. Use that funny straw. And maybe move to the chair just adjacent to your work/life couch. As our patron saint Jimothy Buffet once spake: Changes in latitude, changes in attitude.