Summer drinks get a bad rap.
Anything pink with an umbrella or sugary rim is dismissed as girly and lightweight. But summer spirits are my favorite. When you’re landlocked like we are, who doesn’t want that beachy feeling that daiquiris, margaritas and coladas bring?
There was a time when frosty adult beverages were in, says Jerry Nevins, owner of Snow Co., the frozen-cocktail bar in the Crossroads. The Rat Pack wasn’t all martinis. Lots of drinks were served over shaved ice. So what happened?
“Over time, the drinks were cheapened and watered down,” Jerry says. “Pre-made mixes in a blender with cheap alcohol took frozen drinks out of high cocktail culture. I’m trying to elevate it back to the unique and exciting.”
With drinks like the Cloud 9 — Thatcher’s Elderflower, Stirrings peach liqueur, St. Germain, milk and simple syrup — he’s definitely doing the unexpected. His bar has been open for a year and a half, and come Monday, he’s rolling out a new happy hour: the Drink Exchange (5 to 7 p.m.). Prices will go up and down based on popularity.
Yep, icy cocktails are making a comeback, and Kansas City bars have a lot to offer. Here are a few of my favorite sunny drinks:¡Ochos Locos!
Port Fonda’s pretty cocktails pack a punch every time. The Roselle Margarita with blood-orange liqueur and hibiscus syrup is a favorite, and one is usually enough. Just in time for summer, sangria in white and red will join the menu.
So will my new go-to drink, ¡Ochos Locos! ($9). It’s not frozen, but it is a summer chill. Bartender Caitlin Corcoran serves up the sexy and sophisticated with this pink drink, a crazy combo of Tequila Cazadores Reposado, flowery Agavero tequila liquor, grenadine, lime and an absinthe rinse. Don’t be fooled by the cherry — it’s soaked in tequila. Try one at Port Fonda, 4141 Pennsylvania Ave.PortFondaKC.com
Blanc Burgers + Bottles serves up milkshakes for over-21 drinkers. Jen the bartender likes the Key Lime shake, a blend of Licor 43, lime juice and Foo’s vanilla custard topped with crushed graham crackers. For a non-alcoholic option, the husband says the root beer float is the one.
But I went straight for the Tiramisu shake ($11). We’re talking 3 Olives Triple Shot Espresso Vodka, Frangelico and Foo’s vanilla custard. It’s big enough to share. And if you must have some fries with your shake, I choose Fire Fries. Order yours at Blanc, 4710 Jefferson St on the Plaza or 10538 Mission Road in Leawood.BlancBurgers.com Classic Daiquiri
Kill Devil Club is known for its cocktails, and this season we’ll see a gin-based punch, a beer shandy cocktail and an unfrozen daiquiri. General manager Scott Tipton tells me the daiquiri we’ve come to call a glorified Slurpee used to be a fine drink. It was served in a tall glass with cracked ice and was one of Ernest Hemingway’s favorites.
At Kill Devil, count on it to be a combination of Plantation 3 Stars Silver rum, lime and sugar shaken and strained into a cocktail glass. Get the Classic Daiquiri for $10 at the Kill Devil Club, 31 E. 14th St.KillDevilClub.com Exotic Berry
At the 9th Inning sports bar on 18th Vine, the bartenders are known for remixing classics on the fly. Their pina colada isn’t your average frosty tropical drink. They add bananas and caramel sauce for a Bananas Foster flair.
They do frozen drinks well. My pick: Exotic Berry ($7). This blend of rum, peach liqueur, strawberry liqueur and fruits is like a bag of Skittles with some bite. Taste it at the 9th Inning, 1512 E. 18th St.The9thInning.com Arctic Flight
At Snow Co, flights go frozen because wine lovers should not be the only ones to enjoy tastings. Sample the extensive menu of frozen artisan cocktails in groups of three, five or 10.
Let me tell you, I would have never tried the Sunshine Boulevard had it not been for flights. I don’t like beer. But this blend of Boulevard Wheat, local 360 Vodka, fresh orange juice and fresh lemon is delicious.
But every season gets a special drink. Meet Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Lemonade ($7.25). It’s 360 vodka infused with jalepenos and fresh lemon and milk. Think citrus with an attitude. Cool down at Snow Co, 1815 Wyandotte.SnowAndCompany.com