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Acing Frozen Cocktails At Home

When it’s 90 degrees in the shade and the sun just won’t stop, cocktail hour benefits from breaking out the heavy artillery. The blender can be a home bartender’s best friend on long summer days, but because many bars use commercial frozen-drink machines, replicating recipes on a smaller scale at home can pose a few challenges. For best results when whipping up summer’s best frozen cocktails, keep a few basic principles in mind:

1. Using crushed ice, rather than cubes, typically gives a drink better consistency. Give your cubes a quick blast through an ice crusher or food processor, or a few whacks in a Lewis bag, before proceeding with a recipe. If you wind up using cubes, give the drink a longer blend (though keep in mind the next point, below).

2. All blended drinks are not equal. Some drinks (like Manolito‘s Daiquiri Menta) benefit from a longer blend (around 20 or 30 seconds with crushed ice), which results in a uniform smoothness, while others (including many classic tiki drinks and some modern inventions like the Jungle Bobby from The Polynesian) achieve the right balance of dilution and texture with a much shorter “flash blend”—no more than five seconds at high speed.

3. Treat the ice like all the other ingredients—be sure to measure carefully in order to avoid weak or poorly diluted drinks. If the recipe doesn’t specify how much ice to use, start with one cup per serving and adjust as needed.

4. If you’re experimenting with devising your own recipes at home, keep in mind that using any ole cocktail recipe will likely not translate to the blender perfectly. You may need to up the amount of sugar in a citrusy drink or increase the citrus in a boozy drink in order to achieve the right balance. A little trial and error will help you get a feel for the proper ratios. And though it might seem counter-intuitive, spirit-forward cocktails like the Negroni or Martini will benefit from a bit of citrus juice to balance out the booze (see Parson’s Frozen Negroni Slushy as an example).

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