It's flipping hot out, so we've been spending the past few weeks seeking out the city's best (and coldest) drinks. We're talking frozen cocktails. While there are a couple of margaritas on this list, for the most part Houston is a city that's running wild with the types of cocktails that can be enhanced by a daiquiri machine or blender.
These should be at the top of your bucket list this summer. These are our personal favorites of the moment, tried and tested. And no, you won't find frosé on the list, because it's time to stop ruining rosé.
Honorable Mentions: Bellini Bliss at Agu Ramen, various locations
What's better than a bellini? A frozen one, duh. This mind-numbing concoction combines peach puree and strawberry vodka along with a scoop of peach sorbet and a Prosecco topper.
Honorable Mention: Pop-tails at Hotel Sorella CityCentre
Summertime poptails, which have flavors that change as a popsicle melts into your drink, include the Cosmologic, made with citrus vodka, lime juice, triple sec and cranberry juice garnished with a cran-orange popsicle, which you can enjoy pool side at this swanky spot in Memorial City.
10. Frozen Gin & Juice at Axelrad
Arguably the city's best spot for chilling in the backyard, Axelrad is mostly known for its incredible selection of beers on tap, but the bar does offer a rotating list of frozen drinks, which as of late has meant everything from Gin & Juice to the boozy Arnold Palmer (i.e., the John Daly).
9. Tequila Mangonada at Grand Prize Bar
The pool table has seen better days and the clientele is barely legal, but this Museum District/Montrose-area dive's frozen mangonada with a heavy helping of tequila is quite a doozy. Chunks of mango and a tamarind-covered straw bring out the finer points in this frozen cocktail, a real tooth rotter that would probably help you play the Elvis pinball machine better if those meddling youths weren't all leaning up against it sucking face.
8. Strawberry Daiquiri at Gloria's Latin Cuisine
Houston Press contributor Cuc Lam calls this "the perfect summer adult beverage." Why? A perfect ratio of fresh strawberry to boozy rum daiquiri.
7. Frozen Paloma at Tacos A Go Go Garden Oaks
So you have the kids in tow and need to get some grub. Tacos A Go Go on T.C. Jester is a great spot with family-pleasing queso and tacos — little ones seem taken by the chicken and steak options — and really refreshing frozen Palomas. The only problem? Those meddling kids will probably be all hey, why can't I have a frozen drink too?
6. Frozen Limoncello at Osso & Kristalla
This downtown trattoria from Houston Astros owner Jim Crane is a great spot to eat at the bar during a summer with a frozen limoncello, its usual offering that's basically just akin to frozen lemonade, though the frozen Negroni does make an occasional appearance as well. The menu of pizzas, pastas, great salads and even breakfast eats makes for great snacking whatever the time of day. Plus, there are ample televisions to catch the Astros or whatever games are on that day.
5. Pineapple Express at Pi Pizza
Not only does Pi Pizza offer some of the best pies in town, from the downright crazy SGT Pepper Redux — blackberry, mint pesto and goat cheese — to safe bets including Lee's Pizza (pepperoni, Italian sausage and jalapeño, mmkay), the Heights eatery is also home to four frozen drinks, including a riff on purple drank, a boozy Tang-based potion that will send your eyeballs floating into space, and the Pineapple Express, an ode to tiki and tequila that's obviously named after that stoner film with James Franco, admittedly his best film before he took to ruining William Faulkner for everyone. Granted this drink is enough to turn your mother into a fish or get your sister some hair of the dog.
4. Sake-Rita at Rico's Morning+Noon+Night
Not only does this kiosk-size snack-food emporium (operated by the Cyclone Anaya's team) turn out pretty delicious burgers and exceptional McDonald's-style fries that are truly worth a trip, it also rocks a couple of mighty frozen drinks, including the sake margarita. It's tart and because sake has a little bit of a lower alcohol by volume content, it's perfect for sipping in the huge yard overlooking the Midtown sign in the afternoon. Warning: You can be friends with the myriad domesticated pigeons here, but please do not feed them or try to take them home.
3. Frozen Paloma or The Suffering Bastard at Double Trouble
Located in a cool pocket of Midtown, across the street from Continental Club, this unpretentious and darkly lit bar serves up two killer frozen drinks alongside a menu that ranges from classics (the Bees Knees here is legit) to divey well drinks to coffee cocktails, and actually rocks some great coffee drinks in the daytime too. The Suffering Bastard gets down to business with both bourbon and gin — the most unlikely pair since Brad Pitt took a cornrowed Juliette Lewis to the Oscars — accompanied by a ginger beer that truly bites in the best way possible. It's sort of like a better Dark and Stormy without the morning-after shame of dark rum. The Paloma is a safe bet as well, refreshing, and probably best suited for those who always went for the safe white cherry Icee over the maniacal blending of Coke and Blue Raspberry.
2. Pretty much anything at Lei Low
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Blended drinks and tiki concoctions served over crushed ice are the name of the game at this beloved Heights bar, home to some of the finest velvety nudey paintings and kitschy nautical-themed delights in town. It's darker than a witch's lair and the drinks on offer are just as portentous as anything you can find in a cauldron — do take an Uber. Most people recommend starting with the frozen quaff Shipwrecked on Tiki Island, a devious black and coconut rum medley with banana, guava and tiki bitters, but the minty Missionary's Downfall with crushed ice is a great place to start if you're scared to travel down the path of the Zombie.
1. Frozen Gin + Tonic at Eight Row Flint
Floral, aromatic and just a touch sweet, this is a gin and tonic you're not going to want to put down. Though Eight Row gets a little uppity-feeling at times — does everybody who owns a pair of white jeans just descend upon this place on the nightly? Perhaps — it does have a pretty solid lineup of frozen cocktails, including a margarita and a whiskey beverage, and frosé if you're desperate, making it easy to drown out the various tiresome conversations around you and focus on that exceptional queso instead.