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The last weeks of summer may be drawing to a close—seriously, how is it already the end of August?—but I'm not quite ready to quit the season. Cue the frozen drinks, which don't need to be sipped on a beach to be enjoyed properly.
Some of my favorite frozen drinks are those served by mixologist Adam Bernbach at Estadio in Washington, D.C. Bernbach introduced his slushitos at the Spanish small plates eatery during a heatwave in the summer of 2010 as a matter of necessity, but the drinks became so popular they earned a permanent place on Estadio's warm weather menu.
Bernbach stresses that frozen drinks don't have to be the cheesy stuff of two-bit tiki bars. "There's nothing wildly upscale about it, except wanting to use really good ingredients," he told me recently. "There's no high art or low art. It's just a drink."
There's no sour mix in sight at Estadio's bar—it's all infused sugars and spirits here, all carefully mixed and calibrated. It's hard to imagine Bernbach swilling cliched margaritas or daiquiris. Or is it?
"If I was on a desert island, the piña colada would be on my list," he swore.
Bernbach gave me some adapted recipes that make it easy to reproduce these drinks at home—Bernbach has a high-tech slushie machine at his disposal, whereas all I have is a blender. Something to keep in mind: the intensity of flavor in these drinks will vary depending on how much ice you use, so you may want to play around with using more or less.
Strawberry, Gin, Campari and Lime Slushito
The strawberries in this recipe work nicely against the bitter sweetness of the Campari, and you can add more or less lime depending on how sour you'd like your drink to be.
Chamomile, Bourbon, Sherry and Grapefruit Slushito
I was a bit skeptical when Bernbach suggested I try infusing my bourbon with tea. It certainly didn't sound like any frozen drink I'd had before. But the tea's subtle flavor gives this frozen cocktail a refined quality you probably won't find in most spring break elixirs.
Adam Bernbach's Piña Colada
Bernbach uses this recipe so often that he keeps it tacked to his fridge. Though he rarely serves a piña colada at Estadio, it's his favorite drink to make at home. And after testing it, I have a feeling this is my new go-to piña colada recipe.
About the Author: Rachel Tepper is a food writer based in New York City. Her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Edible DC, Washington City Paper and other publications. She loves a good Scotch.