Hot weather and holiday weekends are here. Why not make your own frozen drinks? It’s cheaper, it’s easy, and all that’s required is that you do your shopping (and freezing!) now.
Am I the only one who, when hot weather hits, craves not the beach, precisely, but the frozen drinks in coconuts the idea of the beach conjures?
The first hot days of the year induce cravings not for sandy sandwiches, sunburns, and trying to assemble a beach umbrella, but the accoutrements I associate with the beach: piña coladas, rum drinks in coconuts, and anything sporting a tiny umbrella. In my part of Brooklyn, I have located zero good frozen piña coladas nearby, and recently realized that the reason I haul myself an hour and half on the subway to the Rockaways (yes, like the Ramones song) is for a piña colada fix.
Sure, I tell myself it’s about seeing nature and connecting with the ocean, but the truth is that there’s a subterranean Irish bar called Connolly’s with strong A/C and an even stronger frozen cocktail that I freakin’ love. The year I discovered it, they were selling $5 cocktails with a 50-cent floater of extra rum—the best use of two quarters after a game of pinball.
So this year, I’m dropping the “one with nature” façade, staying home on the 100 degree days, and making my own piña coladas. I’d bookmarked a good-looking Bon Appétit recipe and I had the right pantry items, so I lugged a pineapple home from the market singing the piña colada song to myself all the while. I cut up the fruit, stashed half in the freezer and threw the other half into a blender with coconut cream, coconut milk, white rum, and lime juice. I topped it with dark rum. I served it to friends. I felt like a hero. (Note: If there is a child in the vicinity when you are making frozen drinks with cherries on top, said child will throw himself onto the floor and wail until you produce a virgin version for him.)
Have you had a piña colada lately? They are a treasure of the cocktail world. And the more I start thinking about it, the more I realize that—now that I have a good blender—there’s no reason for me not to be making frozen drinks all summer long. Painkillers with rum and nutmeg. The aforementioned piña colada. And on a desperate-for-heat-relief-day before my air conditioning was installed for the summer, it occurred to me that I could make frozen pineapple margaritas. Just tequila, lime juice, the other half of my stashed pineapple, and agave. I made a lime-chile-salt rim for the glass using cayenne, Kosher salt, lime zest. I adjusted acid and sweetness, to taste. (The pineapple became un-frozen quickly, so next time I’ll add ice.) It was great.
My new summer mantra is to have tropical fruit in the freezer all summer long. Pineapple to start, but mangoes, I’m lookin’ at you next. So pin down your dream recipe this weekend. Don’t get hit by the piña colada craving truck unprepared—and don’t get caught in the rain, either.
Alex Van Buren is a food and travel writer living in Brooklyn, New York whose work has appeared in Gourmet.com, Bon Appétit, Travel + Leisure, New York Magazine, Martha Stewart Living, and Epicurious. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @alexvanburen.