Frozen Fun For Summer

If you have kids, then you know Frozen has been the big movie hit this year, but as the weather gets warmer all thoughts are turning more to frozen beverages for bar and nightclub operators. Rolling out frozen drinks, both classic and updated, using top of the line equipment and products is a must. And customers are asking for them.

Perhaps the ultimate in ice is Minus5 Ice Bar, which has two locations in Las Vegas, one in New York and one in Orlando, Fla. Everything from the walls and the bar to the seats and the glasses are made from ice, so it stands to reason that the drinks are frozen, too.

Frozen Drinks from Minus 5
Minus5 Cocktails

Their most popular cocktails (costing $10 to $12) are:

  • The Freezing Apple (vodka, sour apple pucker, and sweet and sour mix)
  • The Iceberg (grape vodka, triple sec and sweet and sour mix)
  • The Avalanche (vodka and pineapple juice)
  • The Ice man (coconut and pineapple with raspberry vodka), which is like a raspberry piña colada
  • The FroCinn (cinnamon vodka, mango, pineapple, grape and orange juices).
  • The SnowFlake (cherry vodka, peach schnapps, white cranberry juice and orange juice). This is a very summery cocktail, yet despite this it’s well-liked in the wintry atmosphere of Minus5.

Since the temperature inside Minus5 is 23ºF, no blender is used here. “Because it’s cold the juice pours like a slush. It’s as close as you can get to a frozen cocktail,” says Rupert King, general manager of the Monte Carlo Las Vegas bar. “And the drinks freeze if you don’t drink them fast enough,” he adds. “Our drinks come in the rocks rather than on the rocks.”

The bars’ seven frozen cocktails constitute about 80% of the drinks the bars serve, and many new guests to the bars ask for them specifically. “They have this cultish following,” King explains. “Everyone drinks these; they’re coming in for the experience.”

Frozen beverages are more seasonal at Boxwood Tap + Grill in Dallas, Texas. “As soon as it starts warming up customers think patios and nice frozen drinks,” says bar manager Shawn Egerton.

Boxwood has three frozen drink machines, all top-of-the-line. Two machines are inside and one is outside and they’re typically turned on as soon as the weather turns in April.

The bar offers two frozen drinks but rotates them seasonally and for special events. There’s the frozen Cuba Libre “with Bacardi 151 to give it a manly kick,” Egerton says, and a BTG Rita. For the latter the bar uses Sauza Blanco—100% blue agave tequila.

Women are the big market for these drinks, Egerton says, because they “seem to be very open minded with new drink trends and always interested in trying new things that sound fun and refreshing.”

But for everyone frozen drinks seem to signal summer. “It’s about the feeling of what these drinks give you,” Egerton adds. “When you see the machine and see the ice you want that cold refreshing beverage.”

The drinks cost $7 or $5 during happy hour, with 16% food costs (though up to 27% during happy hour).

The cocktails at Sycamore Den in San Diego are $9 and this 1970s-style cocktail lounge offers beverages from that decade, including a Poor Reds slushie cocktail, which like Boxwood’s drinks, comes out of a machine. It’s made with Jenever (Dutch gin), Galliano, Crème de cacao, Milk, Rx (local sarsparilla bitters) and cinnamon, and served in an old-fashioned glass.

Dovetail Julep from Sycamore Den
Dovetail Julep from Sycamore Den

Pour Reds is a spin on the popular 1970s cocktail, the Golden Cadillac, which was created by Poor Red's BBQ in El Dorado, Calif. It’s served year round, thanks to San Diego’s mild climate.

“It's nice to have [frozen drinks] as an alternative cocktail source,” says cocktail curator Eric Johnson. “Our patrons love trying new cocktails, and we enjoy experimenting with different ways of preparation.”

Sycamore Den also serves a Dovetail Julep, which includes shaved iced so is more chunky than the Pour Red. This is a really summery drink, says Johnson and  contains gin, Cognac, a sugar cube, mint, and peach bitters. “It’s like an old fashioned with mint and not too sweet for men,” he says. “We use snow (ground down ice) so it turns into a slushie.”

One thing these frozen drinks all have in common is they’re fun to drink and order. A company that’s also having fun with frozen drinks is Monkey Shoulder whisky, which is developing frozen drinks with its triple malt blended whisky, which is richer than a blended whiskey, says Freddy May, ambassador for the brand.

The Monkey Colada from Monkey Shoulder
The Monkey Colada from Monkey Shoulder

A popular drink it’s created is the Monkey Shoulder Whiskey margarita, which uses half lime and half lemon juice, the whiskey and agave nectar. There’s also the Monkey Colada featuring pineapple puree, coconut liquor, coconut water and fresh lime juice.

“We’ve moved away from the cheesy frozen drinks of the 80s but we’re also moving away from the uber serious mixologists,” May says. “People are realizing you can have fun with drinks.”

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