When you hear spiked slushy, you might think of a Slurpee mixed with rum, vodka or other spirit.
But this summer’s coolest drink trend takes the concept of boozy frozen slush to new heights by using fresh ingredients and beer, hard seltzer and other alcohol as a base. In the midst of a year that’s a whole bunch of dreadful, they’re something new and refreshing.
Riding the wave of hard seltzer’s popularity, chef Cat Cora this summer shared a recipe for a White Claw slushie (made using a lime, frozen mangos, a White Claw and ice). Internet searches for “hard seltzer slushie” hit a new high in mid-July, according to Google Trends, and Pinterest has found spikes in searches for slushies made with pineapple rum, moscato and vodka and lemonade.
Alcoholic slushies can be made at home, requiring little more than a boozy base, mixer, ice and a blender.
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Beer-based slushies are popping up on menus across the country, including those using Natural Light’s Naturdays and Delirium Red, a Belgian fruit ale.
Eric Schmidt, owner of Orange & Brew Bottle Shop and Tap Room in Downers Grove, Illiniois, near Chicago, bought a slushie machine in late June to offset the money he lost due to “the COVID craziness.”
Orange & Brew has created a Frappuccino-like drink with Pabst Blue Ribbon’s Hard Coffee and, in another concoction, combined cucumber cider with a mojito syrup. But the clear front-runner that has earned a permanent spot in their machine is a a strawberry lemonade light lager, a slushie made with Natural Light’s Naturdays.
“That was the first thing that we put in there, and I think we sold about 150 in the first two days,” Schmidt says. “We’re not a big space, so that’s a big deal for us.”
He says sales are “steady” and customers have come in looking for the drink, attracting a wider audience than their typical craft beer drinker. Schmidt says slushie sales are a “significant” part of business, and he doesn’t see the appeal wearing off.
“It doesn’t seem to be a novelty where people are, like, ‘Oh, that’s cool. I’m never gonna do it again,'” he says.
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Nima Hadian, owner of Shangy’s which boasts of its assortment of more than 4,000 beers, also has reason to cheer. Hadian introduced a slushie parlor marketed as “The Slushee King” to his Emmaus, Pennsylvania, store in May that offers a menu of 20 rotating slushies made with malt-based or sugar-based alcohol.
Hadian says sales are “tremendous,” adding he’s considering adding more machines to meet the high demand.
The Slushee King operates similar to an ice cream shop, where a customer picks the flavor and cup size, then takes them out in a sealed to-go cup.
His current top-seller is a slushie made with Delirium Red, a Belgian fruit ale from Huyghe Brewery.
“We thought the strong cherry flavor with the sweetness and sourness that it has, would be a very good compliment to slushies,” he says. “We were 1,000% right.”
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