Temperatures are rising, bars are scaled back or closed, and summer in L.A. feels like it's slipping away. What should the discerning, socially distanced drinker reach for? Consider the frozen cocktail. Thirst-quenching, unfussy and best sipped outdoors, these beverages are so suited to our current moment, it’s no wonder many restaurants have added them to their menus since the pandemic flipped the industry on its ear. Whether alcoholic popsicles or piña coladas in pouches, here are five frosty concoctions that are pretty chill. Just watch out for the brain freeze.
F.A.D.E.D. at the Rose
There’s a lot to like about the frozen cocktails at the Rose in Venice — they’re refreshing, straightforward and seem to suit a restaurant that’s a short walk from the ocean. But on second sip, it’s clear there’s much more to bar director Lindsey Morris’ elixirs than just booze and a blender. The F.A.D.E.D., which supposedly stands for “frozen all day, every day,” is a potent mixture of tequila, Aperol, rosé, grapefruit and strawberries — a vibrant, ruby red slurry that falls somewhere between a margarita and an Aperol spritz. And the Beach, Please is made with aged Venezuelan rum, Brazilian cachaça, coconut, banana, lime, ginger and a shot of amaro, which adds a welcome warming-spice complexity. The Rose doesn’t offer its frozen cocktails for delivery, but the bar staff will happily package them to-go if you don’t feel like drinking on the restaurant’s breezy outdoor patio.
220 Rose Ave., Venice, (310) 399-0711, therosevenice.la
A post shared by Thunderbolt (@thunderboltla) on Jul 19, 2020 at 3:23pm PDT
Frozen pops at Thunderbolt
Thunderbolt, the vaguely Southern-themed cocktail bar that opened last year next door to the Park’s Finest BBQ, hasn’t let the pandemic put a damper on its creativity. Among the Echo Park establishment's robust selection of canned and bagged cocktails: boozy tropical sodas, nitrogen-infused espresso martinis, and a coconut Old-Fashioned perfumed with pandan leaf. Owner Mike Capoferri and his staff seem to have the most fun with their $7 frozen cocktail pops, which come packaged in plastic pouches for slurping, à la Otter Pops. Flavors rotate weekly; the latest is a dangerously quaffable stone fruit sangria made with vodka, Sauvignon Blanc, bitter orange liqueur, peach and apricot.
1263 W. Temple St., Los Angeles, (213) 372-5099, thunderboltla.com
Brain Freezers at Hippo
Hippo's bar director, Clare Ward, has a knack for coming up with cheeky names to fit her balanced, thoughtful cocktails — the Back on our Bulls*!t is one current example. That same marketing panache appears in the Highland Park restaurant’s line of so-called Brain Freezers, batched to-go cocktails that are vacuum sealed and frozen solid, so all they require is a spin in the blender before they’re ready to be poured into glasses. The simple but effective Skool’s Out, Forever is made with Mexican Coke, ripe California cherries and Tennessee whiskey, while the Mom’s on Instagram? suggests a day at the health spa: tequila, gin, cucumber, herbs, lemon and a touch of crème fraîche. Brain Freezers are $9 or $10 each; a mixed six-pack costs $52.
5916½ N. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, (323) 545-3536, hipporestaurant.com
A post shared by Ma’am Sir l Los Angeles (@maamsirla) on Jul 12, 2020 at 8:12am PDT
Lychee mojito slushie at Ma’am Sir
Ma’am Sir bar director and self-professed tiki obsessive Ramsey Musk has kept Silver Lake’s cocktail game going strong during the pandemic, stocking his drink menu with seasonal creations such as ube-flavored cosmopolitans, frozen rosé ice pops and piña coladas served in freshly husked coconuts. Another standby: his “industrial strength” $9 alcoholic slushies, which rotate flavors every few weeks. Right now you’ll find a frozen paloma made from tequila, grapefruit cordial, passion fruit and coconut, and a frozen mojito blended with fresh lychee.
4330 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 741-8371, maamsirla.com
A post shared by Mᴇʟʀᴏsᴇ Uᴍʙʀᴇʟʟᴀ Cᴏ. (@melroseumbrellaco) on Jul 22, 2020 at 3:53pm PDT
Run the Julep at Melrose Umbrella Co.
West Hollywood’s Melrose Umbrella Co. and Hollywood tiki bar Lono have pooled their resources to offer a to-go cocktail menu that includes a dozen or so drinks and caters to a variety of tastes. There’s a mai tai that serves four, a mezcal-banana concoction made with prickly pear juice, and shots of house-made Fireball made from Ceylon cinnamon-spiked rye whiskey. But on a balmy day you’ll probably be drawn to the blended piña colada, made with aged rum, brandy, Angostura amaro and fresh coconut cream, or the emerald-green Run the Julep, a slushie peach mint julep spiked with bourbon. Bonus? All profits from the sale of the latter cocktail during the month of July will be donated to the nonprofit organization Black Women Lead.
7465 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 951-0709, umbrellahospitalitygroup.com