Many bartenders have noted how quickly I can make a cocktail. My speed and efficiency can be attributed to two things. The first is that I played more video games as a kid than you can imagine and though it might sound far-fetched, I honestly believe I developed incredible hand-eye coordination from it. I type fast and I was a decent baseball player, but, of course, as I get older and drink more bourbon and smoke more hash, I am losing these abilities.

The second reason for my ability to crank out cocktails quickly is practice. One of my first bartending gigs was at TGIFriday’s, which, overall, was one of the worst jobs in the history of mankind—uptight corporate bosses and more rules than a prison. The job, however, afforded me the opportunity to be introduced to the “service bar.” For those not in the restaurant business this means the bar which was completely devoted to the patrons not seated at the bar. The service bar, at times, could be a complete shit-show, tickets from the printer spitting out countless drinks an hour.

And the worst drinks among them were blended drinks. By the end of my two-year tenure at Friday’s I would have rather made love to Kathy Bates than to ever make a blended drink again. The idea of blended slushy drinks took on this pedestrian idea in my mind. Real drinkers didn’t need crushed ice in their drink, or so I thought then.

And I thought the same thing until recently when I let the angst from those experiences fade away and I realized that drinking—as Dionysus taught me—should be about having fun. Too often the culture of cocktails and drinking is bogged down by uppity assholes trying to tell me how to drink.

Recently, Parson’s Chicken & Fish, the same people behind Longman & Eagle here in Chicago, started serving a Negroni Slushy. I have yet to drink it, but the Negroni is one of my favorite gin cocktails and adding the word slushy brings back visions of my youth—you know, when I was happy and still had dreams. So I’m primed and ready to give it a try. The restaurant that is silly enough to employ me, Union Sushi and Barbecue, has also decided to put a slushy drink on the menu, though the details are still being hammered out.

What I’m saying here is that it’s refreshing (punning is funning) to see the cocktail culture dig in to this trend. If the Negroni can be slushified, I hesitate to think there is a ceiling on it. In the meantime, I want to give you my favorite drinks in the slushy-realm.

Piña Colada

I was in Las Vegas recently and despite my friends ribbing me for it, I imbibed about a dozen Piña Coladas poolside. Nothing says tropical like coconuts and stupid amounts of rum. When I make them at home I prefer to use actual pineapple chunks in the blender. This recipe is by no means the end all, but it’ll get you to where you need to be.

  • 2 oz. light rum[ref]Flor de Caña light rum is the way to go.[/ref]
  • 2 oz. coconut cream
  • 2 oz. pineapple chunks[ref]You may want to add more. All dependent on how much flavor you’re getting.[/ref]
  • .5 oz. simple syrup[ref]Start here. You can add more if you need it.[/ref]
  • Cup of ice and blend the hell out of it

You can use coconut rums, but I want to taste the rum. You will most certainly want to garnish with a cherry—one of the few times I’d promote using maraschino cherries. If you want to amp up the citrus, a touch of lime juice wouldn’t hurt. It’s important to highlight the coconut and the simple syrup should give that a boost. You might have to tweak this recipe, but it’s hard to screw it up. Somewhere Rupert Holmes is smiling.

Kiwi Margarita

You could put tequila, lime, agave, and last nights marijuana resin into a blender and it’ll taste good.[ref]Marijuanita? We can brainstorm it out.[/ref] I was in Buenos Aires, Argentina last summer and happened upon a place selling kiwi margaritas. I was so impressed I made them for friends at my fantasy football draft and though they were poking fun at first, the tequila had the last laugh.

  • 2 oz. tequila
  • .50 oz. lime
  • .50 oz. agave syrup[ref]May need to raise this dependent upon how sweet you like your drinks.[/ref]
  • .25 oz. Cointreau[ref]You can use cheap triple sec, but I prefer Cointreau.[/ref]
  • 1 ½  kiwis peeled and sliced
  • Cup of ice and blend the hell out of it

You can add more kiwi if necessary and more simple, too. You should always taste as you go and then you’ll have the recipe that suits you. Remember, as Jay-Z famously said, “What you eat don’t make me shit.”

Watermelon Mojito

In Thailand it is common to have “watermelon shakes.” Essentially it’s watermelon and chopped ice. They’re the best thing to happen to the world since dogs were domesticated. Now think about adding a mojito twist to this. Rum makes everything taste better.

  • 2 oz. light rum
  • .75 oz. lime juice
  • .50 oz. simple syrup
  • 1½  cups of cubed watermelon
  • Three to four mint leaves
  • Cup of ice

Again, you’re the chef here, so tweak as necessary. More watermelon never hurt anyone. You may need to back off that lime juice a bit to since it might become a little too citrusy. As the Thai would say this watermelon mojito is “Same, same but different” than the mojito you’re used to.