In Houston, when it gets to the end of August, cooler temperatures aren't necessarily just around the corner. The sun might very well continue to beat down mercilessly on residents through the end of September (when there aren’t thunderstorms and floods, that is). Fall might come in October, but pool parties in December aren’t necessarily out of the question.
Is there a more fun way to combat these final unpredictable days of summer than with frozen cocktails? If Houston had an official city drink, it might be the frozen margarita. However, there are more inventive libations worth seeking out. Here are 10 icy cocktails that go far beyond Houston’s favorite tequila, orange, lime and sugar drink.
Blue Hawaiian at The Nightingale Room, 308 Main. The days of eschewing blue drinks are over—well, at least some of them. The blue hue in this combination of blended white rum, coconut, pineapple and lemon is thanks to liqueur made from the peel of the lahara, a type of citrus fruit found on the island of Curaçao.
Frosé at Canard, 4721 North Main. Americans are resuming their love affair with rosé wine — drier versions, not the sickly sweet ones from the ’70s. That makes Frosé, or frozen rosé, the most fashionable drink of the year. Canard’s version includes Dolin Chamberyzette Strawberry Aperitif (a blend of blanc and dry vermouth flavored with wild strawberry juice). There are a variety of liqueurs to float on top, but the contrast of the Quinta do Noval Black Port is quite dramatic and lovely.
Frosé at Rainbow Lodge, 2011 Ella. Beverage director and sommelier Marc Borel just thought he was having fun with the folks at Canard when he joked on social media that he was going to put his own frosé on the drink list at Rainbow Lodge. That was before he received a message from his boss, Donnette Hansen, telling him he should do it. Anyone who knows Borel is aware of his deep love of rosé wine from Bandol (and he'll tell anyone willing to listen about it), so his version includes that type from Domaine Souviou, as well as strawberry cordial and fino sherry, the latter of which gives this drink a slightly earthy character. Rainbow Lodge's frosé is made to order in a blender, not in a frozen-drink machine.
Frozen Bellini at D’Amico’s Italian Market Café, 5510 Morningside, #140. This frozen twist on the elegant combination of peach purée and prosecco is a brand-new addition to a longtime home of casual Italian cuisine in Rice Village.
Frozen Sake at Rico's Morning + Noon + Night, 401 Gray. Cold sake can be immensely refreshing, so it's kind of odd that it's not being served in frozen form more often. This take on it is indeed available at Rico's Morning + Noon + Night, though. Sake is blended with coconut, ginger beer, pineapple and one other fresh fruit — whatever is in season at the time.
Frozen Strawberry Daiquiri at Cyclone Anaya's, various locations. What could be better than a strawberry daiquiri? A frozen one, of course. Cyclone Anaya's blend of rum, strawberry purée, grenadine and ice comes all dressed up with whipped cream and a cherry on top.
The Half & Half at D&T Drive Inn, 1307 Enid. The Half & Half is the perfect solution for people who don't want to have to choose between the frozen shandy and the sangria at D&T. It's also a great option for people who want a gentle alcoholic beverage rather than one with a hard liquor base.
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Purple Drank at Eight Row Flint, 1039 Yale. Eight Row Flint is very serious about its frozen drink game. The Purple Drank is only one selection from a menu of cold concoctions that includes a frozen gin and tonic and a Lone Star shandy dressed up with Aperol and pisco. As for the Drank: It's a frozen sangria at heart, but certainly not like the kind most people have had before. The base is made of pretty standard sangria ingredients — Tempranillo, brandy, strawberries and fresh lime juice — but it’s amped up from there with complementary floral, fruity and spicy additions: violet, lime oleosaccrum (citrus oil extracted into sugar), orange-flower water, vanilla, black pepper and Thai basil.
Screw the Moon at Berryhill Baja Grill, 1717 Post Oak and 9595 Six Pines, Suite 25. These are available only at the Post Oak and Woodlands locations, but might be worth driving for, if only to get a photo for posterity. Screw the Moon is a frozen screwdriver (a very simple combination of orange juice and vodka) with a Blue Moon beer inverted into it.
Slippin' Into Darkness at Lei Low, 6412 North Main. Bartender and Lei Low co-owner Russell Thoede says he loves papayas during the summer months, so this frozen drink features the bright, orange-fleshed fruits. Each Slippin' Into Darkness is blended to order and includes Cruzan blackstrap rum, Galliano, fresh papaya and housemade Fassionola, a tropical fruit syrup. Thoede says part of the appeal is that it's "like a lava color and packed with fruit flavor backed by molasses and anise."
Bonus Pick: Watermelon Fresca at La Grange, 2517 Ralph. The brand-new frozen cocktail at La Grange sounds perfect for enjoying on La Grange’s extensive patio or upper-deck area. It’s an icy blend of watermelon juice, Aperol, lemon, tequila and agave syrup.