Break out the acid wash denim jorts — it’s downright summery outside. And no better way to celebrate a warm day (or pretend that it’s swimsuit season) than with a frozen drink. Here are our 10 favorites around town.
10. Kelvin Natural Slush, check website for locations
Alex Rein and Zack Silverman made an icy splash with this frozen drink company in 2010 and have since found love and thirsty admiration from food celebrities like Martha Stewart and Andrew Zimmern. The customizable beverages can be mixed with fruit purees, herbs, and booze — several versions of which can be found in the warm months at Madison Square Garden. Seasonal suggestions from Kelvin’s slush jerks always satisfy, but we’ve got a soft spot for their lightly floral citrus tea with bourbon.
9. Bushwick Country Club, 618 Grand Street, Brooklyn; 718-388-2114
This East Williamsburg wonderland for the tight-pantsed and snark-raving masses offers many of the hipster watering hole trappings that Brooklynites have come to know and love: kitschy decor, a photo booth, picklebacks, and a slushie machine that whirs nonstop, spewing forth frozen sweet tea vodkas and whiskey and Cokes whose mugs frost over with the promise of relief and inebriation. There’s a charming albeit dilapidated mini-golf course in the backyard patio. When the weather’s nice, there’s no better place for a brain freeze.
8. Nights and Weekends, 1 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn; 718-383-5349
With cocktail and food menus that play fast and loose with tropical influence, this sister establishment to beloved neighborhood restaurant Five Leaves plies revelers with plenty of rum and tequila, plates of mojo pork ribs, callaloo, and fish tacos served grilled or fried baja-style. Frozen margarita flavors change daily and use premium Combier triple sec, and a rotating “slushie del dia” keeps patrons well-lubricated with fruit flavors like watermelon and mango.
7. Otto’s Shrunken Head, 538 East 14th Street, 212-228-2240
Before Tiki took the city by storm a few years ago, this eccentric island-themed bar — replete with naugahyde booths, faux grass over the bar, and plenty of bamboo — found success among the city’s punk adherents, who perhaps ironically flocked to 14th Street to hear their favorite bands and slurp down sizeable carafes of Polynesian and frozen cocktails. Steer clear of inventions like the scurvy dog (cinnamon vodka with butterscotch) in favor of fruit daiquiris and a creamy chocolate slushy reminiscent of that most esteemed of Floridian tipples, the Bushwacker (basically, a chocolate pina colada).
6. Skinny Dennis, 152 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn; no phone
Don’t let the Williamsburg-Honkey tonk atmosphere deter you: This sibling to pooch-friendly bar Lucky Dog serves one of the city’s finest frozen drinks (in a borough that already shows plenty of love for slushies), an amalgam of Oslo coffee, milk, vanilla, sugar, bourbon, coffee liqueur, and brandy dubbed Willie’s Frozen Coffee. The icy mixture receives an extra slug of bourbon on top, and Skinny Dennis bartenders serve the concoction in the quintessential Greek-inflected coffee cups that have become synonymous with down and dirty NYC java.
5. Debasaki, 3367 Farrington Street, Queens; 718-886-6878
Low-lit Flushing Korean joint Debasaki is known around the populated dining neighborhood for its ‘gyoza’ chicken wings – hollowed-out, boneless wings filled with vegetables, cheese, or shrimp – as much as for its pitchers of frozen soju (a clear Korean distilled beverage with a lower proof than vodka). Available in fruit flavors like frothy, pink strawberry and a thick, creamy plain yogurt variety, the drinks pack tons of flavor but little intoxicating punch, leaving you to sip away for hours with little fear of repercussion.
4. Uncle Boons, 7 Spring Street; 646-370-6650
Besides cooking one of the best versions of curry-based Thai noodle stew khao soi, this quirky Nolita restaurant from Per Se vets Matt Danzer and Ann Redding, which opened last April, serves infinitely appealing Chang and Singha beer slushies. The frosty suds are agitated in a motorized ice bucket, which helps create enough movement within the bottles that the beer maintains its slushy state. They’re innocuous compared with other beers, but there’s no better relief from Uncle Boons’ chili-spiked fare than these frozen brews.
3. Battery Harris, 64 Frost Street, Brooklyn; 718-384-8902
What was once expansive beer garden Loreley has been transformed into this Caribbean restaurant and bar, which sports the same large outdoor patio for partying when the weather’s nice. Head bartender Saul Ranella — formerly of La Mar Cebicheria — mixes a lineup of inventive cocktails with an island bent (while still occasionally utilizing Peruvian ingredients like Pisco, maize, and mint), including a slush-ified take on that ambassador of Anglo-Caribbean drinks, the Dark’n’Stormy, and a frozen version of the Peruvian purple corn drink called chicha morada mixed with passion fruit juice, Pisco, and traditional Peruvian Amargo Chuncho bitters.
2. Daily slushie from Mother’s Ruin, 18 Spring Street, 212-219-0942
Yes, this place is down the street from #4 pick Uncle Boons, but Richard Knapp and TJ Lynch have imbued this spacious Nolita watering hole with a ramshackle charm. Tin ceilings and large back tables encourage socializing in addition to drinking, and a slushy machine holds court up front, filled with whatever flavors strike the bartenders on that particular day. Sweet fruits are on heavy rotation (anything with bananas is a good bet), but the machine occasionally plays host to frozen bloody marys as well.
1. Frozen Horchata from El Quinto Pino, 401 West 24th Street, 212-206-6900
This gorgeous tapas bar from husband and wife team Alex Raij and Eder Montero expanded into an adjacent space last year, finally giving the restaurant a proper dining room dubbed “El Comedor.” Even with the ornate back room up and running, the U-shaped bar up front is still the place to be. True to its Spanish roots, El Quinto Pino’s bartenders serve a variety of sherry and gin-based tipples. Half-dessert, half-cocktail (which could be said for many of the picks on this list), the frozen horchata bears little resemblance to the Mexican cinnamon-and-rice-milk concoction most people associate with the name, basing this version instead on an icy scoop of frozen chufa tiger nut milk, which melts lusciously into a shot of brandy.