RECIPES: Take edge off summer heat with frozen drinks

Bar(n) Booze (n) Bites in Dunwoody Village offers two frozen drinks, both created by Phil Handley, a partner with DASH Hospitality Group. Here, he pours The Spicy Peach Margarita. It's a frozen combination that includes peach puree, tequila, lime juice and agave nectar. (Styling by Phil Handley / Chris Hunt for the AJC)

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

Bar(n) Booze (n) Bites in Dunwoody Village offers two frozen drinks, both created by Phil Handley, a partner with DASH Hospitality Group. Here, he pours The Spicy Peach Margarita. It's a frozen combination that includes peach puree, tequila, lime juice and agave nectar. (Styling by Phil Handley / Chris Hunt for the AJC)

In the heat of summer, frozen drinks are tempting as a way to cool off, but they can also transport us to memories of a great vacation or of slurping snow cones in the neighborhood park.

Demario Wallace, beverage director for Oliva Restaurant Group, finds Rina’s diners love frozen drinks no matter what the weather. “Since Rina opened in Poncey-Highland’s Ford Factory Lofts in January 2020, frozen drinks have been a favorite from the first day. It’s a nostalgia thing. Frozen drinks are escapism.”

Ian Jones, owner of Victory Brands, says the Neon Moon cocktail is the quintessential “sweet pink summer drink.” (Courtesy of Drew Perlmutter)

Credit: Drew Perlmutter

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Credit: Drew Perlmutter

Victory Sandwich Bar’s Jack and Coke slushie, a simple combination of George Dickel and Coca-Cola frozen in a slushie machine, has been on the menu since Day One. But when Ian Jones, owner of Victory Brands, wanted something special for the restaurant’s Beltline-adjacent location and its outdoor shipping container bar, the Victory team came up with the Neon Moon, a combination of four liquors blended with pineapple juice and coconut water.

“With frozen drinks, you get to play around with the pleasant texture of an icy drink, and it’s cool for a bartender to think about what flavors will work on a freezing cold tongue. The Jack and Coke slushie is our No. 1 seller no matter what time of year, but the Neon Moon is the drink that says, ‘summer on the Beltline,’” said Jones.

Phil Handley, a partner with DASH Hospitality Group, rims the glasses for Bar(n) Booze (n) Bites' The Spicy Peach Margarita with Tajin. You can choose how much Tajin to use on the rim of the drink, a frozen combination that includes peach puree, tequila, lime juice and agave nectar. (Styling by Phil Handley / Chris Hunt for the AJC)

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

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Credit: CHRIS HUNT

Bar(n) Booze (n) Bites in Dunwoody Village also offers two frozen drinks, both created by Phil Handley, a partner with DASH Hospitality Group. One is a frosé made with strawberries, lemon grass vodka and rosé, and the other is a spicy peach margarita made with tequila and fresh peach puree. The bar makes both in slushie machines, and Handley says both are big crowd-pleasers.

“One of the things that’s really important in frozen drinks is making sure the sugar balance is correct. Too much sugar and it won’t freeze. ... For the home bartender, there’s a little more flexibility since they’re working with one batch at a time. At home, you can make adjustments as you go. Use whatever fruit is fresh and ripe and add just enough sugar to get the texture right,” said Handley.

Wallace of Rina says the frozen drinks they serve are all part of the restaurant’s Tel Aviv beach vibe, highlighted by the restaurant’s huge photo mural of happy beachgoers. “Tal Baum, the owner, remembers visiting her grandmother Rina in Israel, where they always went to the beach and played in the sun all day. I grew up on the beach in Pensacola, and there were tons of milkshakes and frozen options. We wanted to incorporate our beach memories into our cocktails and milkshakes.”

The milkshakes on the Rina menu include a Turkish coffee shake and a Tahini Shake, both made with gelato. The Tahini Shake adds two classic Middle Eastern ingredients — tahini and dates — to make a creamy, frothy shake that can be served as is, or spiked with bourbon.

Emily Chan of JenChan’s in Cabbagetown says she’s been making watermelon-basil slushies for years and years. “My son and my wife enjoy the virgin version, and when we have company, we make a big batch in our home blender.”

This year, they’re serving the watermelon-basil slushies at the restaurant for the first time. “It was sort of an accident. We had a supper club with watermelon gazpacho a few weeks ago when it was so hot. We threw some in the slushie machine for staff and added a little vodka, and now it’s a summer special.”

Chan’s tip for those who find watermelon a little too sugary is to incorporate some of the white watermelon rind as you are blending the slushie. The white rind is a little bitter, and she blends in a little to offset the watermelon’s sweetness.

Emily Chan of JenChan’s in Cabbagetown trims the hard green rind off a watermelon in preparation for making a Watermelon-Basil Slushie. However, she saves some of the white rind to help adjust the sweetness of the slushie. (Courtesy of Jen Chan)

Credit: Handout

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Credit: Handout

“The slushie machine was a pandemic purchase when we were thinking about what would increase sales in a fun way. Ginger margarita slushies have been on the restaurant menu ever since,” said Chan.

With the addition of the slushie machine to the restaurant’s equipment, the team has fun creating seasonal flavors like a Negroni slushie or Bellini slushie. “We try to always have a fun brunch slushie on the menu on Sundays,” Chan said.

RECIPES

Prepare to give your blender a workout with these frozen drinks from four Atlanta restaurants.

Bar(n) Booze (n) Bites' The Spicy Peach Margarita, made by Phil Handley, a partner with DASH Hospitality Group, is a frozen combination that includes peach puree, tequila, lime juice and agave nectar. (Styling by Phil Handley / Chris Hunt for the AJC)

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

icon to expand image

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

Bar(n) Booze (n) Bites’ The Spicy Peach Margarita

Phil Handley, a partner with DASH Hospitality Group, adapted the recipe for the spicy peach margarita that Bar(n) Booze (n) Bites serves from its slushie machine to make a blender pitcher drink for the home bartender. His recommendation for the tequila is Patron Silver. And he likes sugar to sweeten the peaches, but agave for the cocktail since it’s a natural with tequila.

Handley says if your guests aren’t into spice, skip the Tajin rim. And if they’re halfhearted about spice, just put Tajin on half the rim.

To make it easier on your blender, crush the ice cubes before putting them in to blend. If your refrigerator doesn’t make crushed ice, wrap ice in a kitchen towel and hit the ice with a rolling pin.

Victory's Neon Moon is a combination of four liquors blended with pineapple juice and coconut water. (Courtesy of Drew Perlmutter)

Credit: Drew Perlmutter

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Credit: Drew Perlmutter

Victory’s Neon Moon

Named after the Brooks & Dunn song, this recipe was created by the Victory team pre-pandemic and has been on the menu ever since. Ian Jones, owner of Victory Brands, says it’s the quintessential “sweet pink summer drink” and provided this recipe adapted for a blender rather than a commercial slushie machine used in the restaurant. It’s a very potent cocktail, so plan accordingly.

The Tahini Shake, which is on the Rina menu, includes two classic Middle Eastern ingredients — tahini and dates. It can be served as is, or spiked with bourbon. (Courtesy of Rina)

Credit: Austin Martin

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Credit: Austin Martin

Tahini Shake

This rich milkshake gets lots of flavor from the tahini and honey, so be sure to use a honey with a flavor you enjoy. Date syrup can be found at natural food stores and some grocery stores. In our photo, the shake is accompanied by chocolate chip tahini cookies. At the restaurant, they make this shake in a Hamilton Beach Ice Cream Mixer.

If you like, Demario Wallace, beverage director for Oliva Restaurant Group, suggests you blend in 2 ounces of bourbon or your favorite spirit for a spiked version.

You can make the Watermelon-Basil Slushie from JenChan's with vodka or do a nonalcoholic version. (Courtesy of Emily Chan)

Credit: Handout

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Credit: Handout

Watermelon-Basil Slushie

Emily Chan of JenChan’s in Cabbagetown says she’s been making a virgin version of this slushie at home in her blender for years. At the restaurant, they make it in a slushie machine.

If you’re making the nonalcoholic version, let the frozen watermelon sit out for about 10 minutes to make the chunks easier to blend since you won’t have the additional liquid of the vodka to loosen the mixture.

Chan’s trick of adding a little of the white watermelon rind is a brilliant way to cut down on the sweetness of the slushie. Start blending, taste the mixture and add as much or as little of the rind as you like. We found that when we froze the white rind, it was too hard for our blender to process, so we recommend freezing the watermelon flesh but just refrigerating the rind.

If you have room in your freezer, freeze the chunks of watermelon flesh on a sheet tray and then move them to a food-safe freezer storage bag. This makes it easier to separate chunks for blending but is not essential.

You can make this drink as one big batch, or just blend up the ingredients as desired for individual servings. Chan suggests using Tito’s or Belvedere vodka in this slushie for their clean flavor. “Avoid cheap or flavored vodka!”

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