Frozen cocktails are a great treat and fun addition to summer affairs. Blending perfect cocktails time after time takes practice because it's easy to go from a chunky cocktail to a soupy one. Learning how to work with your particular blender is key, and there are a few tips that will help you get consistent results so you can enjoy frozen margaritas and daiquiris all summer long.
Prepare Your Ingredients
Just because it's a frozen drink doesn't mean that you have to sacrifice quality. Take the same care as you do with other cocktails when selecting the produce, juices, and liquors, and you'll see an immediate improvement.
It's also important to prepare the ingredients because they do more than add flavor; they become the drink.
- Rinse fresh fruit under running water and remove any stems or skin. Chop into chunks of about one inch.
- Frozen fruits make excellent blended cocktails, but watch out for freezer burn. There's no need to thaw them; letting them sit at room temperature to soften a bit can help.
- If using canned fruits, be sure to drain all of the syrup or juice to avoid adding extra liquid to your drinks.
- Rinse herbs and tear them into smaller pieces, removing any stems.
Use the removable section of your blender's lid as a measuring cup. The volume can vary, so learn where to fill it for a shot of tequila or rum to avoid making drinks that are either too weak or too strong.
Use Clean, Crushed Ice
Ice is an often overlooked ingredient in the bar. However, it's used in almost every cocktail and, in blended drinks, it is the drink, so ice is even more important:
- Use clean ice made with distilled or filtered water.
- Don't freeze ice near foods with heavy odors, such as fish.
- Rotate the ice or make new ice so you're never using ice that is more than a week old.
- If you like blended cocktails, you will need a lot of ice. Making too much is better than running out.
Less ice is better; start with about one cup per drink. Another good rule of thumb is to use twice as much ice as the other ingredients' total volume. You can always add more ice if the drink is too watery.
Use cracked or crushed ice. Large cubes tax the motor beyond what is necessary, and regular use of cubes may shorten the life of the blender's motor and blades. If you have a tough blender, it may be able to chop the ice for you. Otherwise, use a separate ice crusher or a Lewis bag and mallet to crack ice cubes into smaller pieces.
When to Add Ice
Depending on your blender, personal taste, and the drink you're making, it may be best to add ice last. Blenders vary in speed and power, so this is not always the best approach. Try a few methods to see which produces the best drinks with your setup.
- The general procedure is to add a cocktail's liquors, juices, and fruits to the blender pitcher, then add ice and blend until smooth.
- Try blending the liquor and mixers first, then add ice and blend until mixed. This can ensure that the flavoring ingredients are fully mixed before the blender works on the ice.
- Use the opposite approach and start with chunky ingredients like ice and fruit and blend them into a slushie. Then, add the liquid ingredients and give it a quick whirl to mix.
Start Slow and Build Up Speed
Secure the lid on the pitcher and start blending at a slow speed. The pulse mode can be handy because you can start and stop the motor in short bursts to chop any large ingredients and ice. Work through the speed cycles of your blender step-by-step for the smoothest, chunk-free frozen cocktails.
Check Out the Results
When you notice that the blender no longer sounds like it is cracking ice, check the drink's consistency. Open the lid after the motor has stopped and stir with a bar spoon (the long shaft is the perfect length for reaching the bottom). If you notice large chunks, blend a little longer.
- If the mix is too thin and watery, add more ice and blend again.
- If the mix is too chunky, add one of your liquid ingredients and re-blend. Start small because it's easy to upset the balance of flavor or make it too watery (which means you need more ice, and the cycle continues).
- Keep carbonated beverages out of the blender unless you want a big mess. A few recipes may recommend it, but that's usually for a small amount of soda and should be just a quick pulse at the end.
- Clean your blender after each use, especially if you are switching to a different cocktail.
- If you can't thoroughly clean the pitcher right away (after all, there's a drink waiting for you), rinse it out. A few seconds of your time now will prevent the drink's sugars from drying up and make it much easier to clean under the blades later.
- Use your blender to mix up cocktails that are typically shaken for a long time. Some bartenders give drinks like the New Orleans fizz a quick whirl in the blender with a little ice to aerate and emulsify the drink.