Chefs’ Picks: Frozen Cocktails
Chefs’ Picks tracks down what the pros are eating and cooking from coast to coast.
“If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” For chefs, that saying rings truest during steamy summer months, when nothing revives their spirit at the end of a long shift like a frozen cocktail. Take a cue from the pros and dive into their picks for the coolest frosty beverages across the country.
Besides serving as Honey’s executive chef, Charles Welch also oversees the cocktail program—and he’s not afraid to play favorites. “My favorite cocktail is a daiquiri,” he reveals. “It's refreshing and simple; perfect for summertime.” When off duty, Welch seeks out unique riffs on the tiki classic. One such find is the fruit-forward Tic Tac Taxi from stylish tiki bar Lost Lake. Inspired by the owners’ travels to Columbia and the Caribbean, this tropical take stars a trio of rums (Aged Panamanian Rum, Overproof Multi-Island Rum and Overproof Jamaican Rum) punched up with Lost Lake Coconut Likker, passionfruit and lime. The tropical theme carries over to the presentation; the drink comes in a coconut husk garnished with pineapple fronds, an edible orchid and an orange peel.
The team at Atlanta-based Venkman’s loves the ‘80s flick Ghostbusters so much that they named their restaurant after one of the main characters, Dr. Peter Venkman (played by Bill Murray). The bar menu also gleans inspiration from all things Ghostbusters. Look no further than Venkman’s slushy citrus cocktail that’s modeled after Hi-C® Ecto-Cooler, an orange-tangerine drink first made in the 1980s to pay homage to the movie franchise and its infamous character Slimer. “The inspiration is really two-fold,” explains Chef Nick Melvin. “One is the childhood nostalgia of [Hi-C®] Ecto Cooler and the other was [to make] something that was bright and citrusy [that] would make you feel good on a hot summer day.” The frothy beverage blends vodka, freshly squeezed orange and lemon juices, simple syrup, tangerine and ice to refreshing effect, plus baby spinach to give it the signature green hue of that original Hi-C® drink. We think Slimer would approve.
According to Luma on Park’s Chef/Partner Brandon McGlamery, sometimes the only remedy for a long day on the line is a good cocktail, especially when Florida’s temperatures hit triple digits. “DoveCote's beverage program, at the helm of Gene Zimmerman, has put Orlando on the map for its legit craft cocktails,” McGlamery says. “Their Crillon Swizzle is my go-to, made with Hine Cognac, mandarin orange, hazelnut, sage, lime, Peychaud's bitters and topped with crushed ice.” The chef orders it alongside an equally refined appetizer, the chicken liver pâté. The dish’s rich fattiness is an ideal match for the cocktail’s herbal and floral notes.
For Chef Chris Cosentino, frozen drinks should be both refreshing and fun — two concepts that shine through in the Coin Toss cocktail at his Portland, Oregon hotspot Jackrabbit. The bar’s signature drink is inspired by the story of how the city got its name, which was determined by Francis Pettygrove of Portland, Maine, winning a coin toss over Asa Lovejoy of Boston. That same spirit of chance is conjured up when Jackrabbit’s customers opt for a Coin Toss. Order one and the bartender flips a coin to decide whether to use housemade ginger-infused gin or tequila as the drink’s base. “I love how playful and engaging it is for guests who enjoy both spirits and want to leave it up to chance!” Cosentino says. The liquor’s warm spice is balanced with a mix of bright lime and grapefruit juices and a hit of herbaceous yellow chartreuse. This Instagram-ready concoction is served over shaved ice in a hollowed-out frozen grapefruit.
Nothing says summer like a Torchlight. Or so says Carolina Santos-Neves, the New York City-based freelance chef who co-founded Latin American restaurant Colonia Verde. “This drink is a combination of mezcal, lime, honey and Cholula hot sauce. It's perfect. The lime makes it refreshing, the honey just slightly sweet, the mezcal is smoky and mysterious — and the Cholula gives it a slight kick,” she notes. She discovered the drink at cozy New York City bars like Up & Up and Attaboy, but once the mercury soars she prefers to make it at home and blend it with ice. “It makes you feel alive, but not too alive,” she adds. “It's the ideal drink for when you want to have just one.” Perfect pairings include savory snacks, such as anchovy and butter toasts or salted almonds.
Photography courtesy of Clayton Hauck, Venkman's, Taylor Thigpen, Eric Sellers and iStock/Dokmaihaeng