Photography by Krystal Ramirez

Slushy Cocktails Worth the Brain Freeze

Frozen blended drinks you can order without shame.

Do it. You  know you want to. Go on, order that frozen blended daiquiri. The one dispensed in the blink of a bartender’s eye from the wall-mounted canister that spins a siren’s song directly to your soul. Because some days (single malts and sotol be damned!), what your soul really wants is a gem-colored frosty delight to knock the temperature down a few notches on a punishing summer day.

Of course, some frozen blended drinks are better than others. There are several options around town that boast top-shelf spirits and ingredients, made by people who share your enthusiasm for giving these lowbrow treats an upgrade. Hey, if New York-based mixologist Sam Ross—creator of the Manhattan-inspired cocktail menu at The Dorsey in The Venetian—can turn his modern classic, the Penicillin, into a frozen blended drink without sacrificing quality, then nothing is off the table.*

(* It’s called the Penichillin, and you can crush them with wild abandon at Ross’ new Brooklyn, New York, spot Diamond Reef.)

Frosé—that is, frozen rosé wine—is arguably the most versatile of the modern blended drinks, marrying the celebrated brunch staple with the insta-party aesthetic of a frozen blended margarita. The first to import it from other hot-climate cities such as New Orleans, New York and Dallas was Lavo Italian Restaurant at The Palazzo, where it’s made with a still Spanish rosé and served by the glass or pitcher ($16/$90). You’ll also find a fancy version at Sugarcane Raw Bar inside The Venetian, where it’s made with vodka, rosé, citrus syrup, grapefruit juice, prickly pear puree and peach schnapps ($13).

Sticking with The Palazzo, the Moscow Mule joins the margarita in being offered on the rocks (traditional) or frozen (um, epic) by the cup, pitcher or “party tub” ($18/$60/$200) at the property’s new Aquatic Club party puddle. It’s not rocket science: Belvedere, fresh lime and ginger beer go into a blender with ice. Served in the requisite copper-tone mug and garnished with a lime wheel, candied ginger and a knowing nod, the Frozen Blended Moscow Mule is an adult sippy-cup version of the cocktail so popular even your mom drinks ’em. Rumor has it that a frozen blended Moscow Mule might make an appearance at the Life Is Beautiful Music & Art Festival, where the classic format has been the official drink since the music festival’s inception.

Krystal Ramirez | Vegas Seven

The (adorable) Mango Chi-Chi at Starboard Tack

It may take a second to get the joke—Lieutenant Dangle was a character on Reno 911!, and carrots do sort of “dangle” in the ground, don’t they? Even if that sails overhead, if you appreciate the good work carrots do in juices and smoothies, you’ll applaud their work as a slightly sweet, slightly savory base for Lieutenant Dangle ($13), the frozen blended wild card on the opening menu at chef Brian Howard’s new Chinatown restaurant, Sparrow + Wolf. Its creator, lead bartender Cody Fredrickson, approached it as a sort of more complex, farm-to-glass piña colada, with a split base of Knockmore Irish Whiskey and Don Q Spiced Rum mixed with fresh carrot juice, coconut and ginger topped with grated nutmeg and garnished with a carrot top.

For the most part, Howard leaves much of the beverage program up to Fredrickson, but there is one drink the chef always knew was going to be on his menu, a recipe he’s been carrying around in his head since he created it in 2016. The off-menu German Slurpee ($13) blends Tito’s Handmade Vodka, German riesling, peach, lemon and fresh thyme for a sip of the Alps that will make one hell of a palate cleanser between courses of his in-house smoked meats and charcuterie. “We wanted a fun frozen drink that was ‘crushable’ on a super-hot Vegas day,” Fredrickson says. “If you take a sip and don’t immediately say ‘Ahhh,’ we’ve failed.”

The twin machines spinning 24/7 at the far right of proprietors Lyle Cervenka and Bryant Jane’s new Downtown rum bar, Starboard Tack, present a conundrum. Will it be the tangy, sweet, seasonally flavored frozen blended Chi-Chi? Served in a photogenic ceramic panda, the piña colada’s vodka-based cousin will be flavored seasonally; right now, it’s a Mango Chi-Chi ($8), made with vodka, coconut cream, pineapple juice and mango puree to evoke one of Cervenka’s favorite Indian beverages, mango lassi. There’s also the boozy perk of the Jamaica Me Rum Coffee ($8; amber rum, coffee liqueur, cold brew and evaporated milk), which alternates with Thai Tea ($8; tea, condensed milk and amber rum). This is why we have two hands.

Momofuku Las Vegas in The Cosmopolitan might be the last place you would expect to find something frozen and blended, but that’s exactly what has been done to the Seven Spice Sour mixologist Don Lee created for the opening of Momofuku Má Pêche in Manhattan. The Seven Spice Slushie ($8) blends sake infused with the seven-spice blend shichi-mi tōgarashi, lime and yuzu juices. Unique yet accessible, the drink’s low-alcohol sake base freezes to a luxuriously silky texture that lasts and lasts. For more familiar flavors, the frozen blended White Cosmo Slushie ($8) combines vodka, cranberry and crème de pêche. Both pair exceptionally well with anything from chef David Chang’s diverse menu. 

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