Spiked slushies are all the rage this sum­mer

Chicago Sun-Times - - TASTE - BY ERIN JENSEN

Al­co­holic slushies pro­vide one way to chill out amid a so­cially dis­tanced sum­mer. They can be made at home, typ­i­cally re­quir­ing lit­tle more than a boozy base, mixer, ice and a blender. In the midst of a year that’s a whole bunch of dread­ful, they’re some­thing new and re­fresh­ing.

Now, drinkers — both at-home and at restau­rants — are moving be­yond mar­gar­i­tas and frose and adding beer, hard seltzer and other booze to their al­co­holic slushie reper­toire.

Chef Cat Cora shared a recipe for a White Claw slushie (made us­ing a lime, frozen man­gos, a White Claw and ice) in May, in line with a ris­ing in­ter­est for a “hard seltzer slushie” on the in­ter­net. Ac­cord­ing to Google Trends, in­trigue on the search en­gine hit a dra­matic spike the week of April 12, with the most num­ber of searches oc­cur­ring the week of July 12.

Pin­ter­est searches for slushies in­creased dra­mat­i­cally com­pared to last year, with pineap­ple rum slush (up 700%) and moscato slushie (up 250%) lead­ing the way. Searches for a vodka lemon­ade slushies, whisky slush and candy-topped al­co­holic slushies have also risen in pop­u­lar­ity, ac­cord­ing to Pin­ter­est rep Erika Berg.

Busi­nesses are also adopt­ing new boozy bases to get in on the slushie trend.

Eric Sch­midt, owner of Or­ange & Brew Bot­tle Shop and Tap Room in Down­ers Grove, brought a slushie ma­chine into his es­tab­lish­ment in late June to off­set “the COVID crazi­ness.” He hoped the ma­chine would help dif­fer­en­ti­ate his busi­ness and al­low Or­ange & Brew to “re­coup some of the money that ev­ery­body’s been los­ing and just have some fun.”

Sch­midt says his busi­ness didn’t have to ac­tu­ally close amid the out­break, be­cause it has a re­tail com­po­nent, but profit mar­gins de­creased. Sch­midt says slushies also ap­pealed to him since, in June, peo­ple were not per­mit­ted to drink in­side. He says his vil­lage blocked off out­doors space, where he was able to put out ta­bles.

“You’ve got pa­tio weather, you’ve got slushies,” he says. “Every­thing re­ally worked to­gether for that.”

Or­ange & Brew has cre­ated a Frap­puc­cino-like drink with Pabst Blue Rib­bon’s Hard Cof­fee and, in an­other con­coc­tion, com­bined a cu­cum­ber cider with a mo­jito syrup. But the clear front-run­ner that has earned a per­ma­nent spot in their ma­chine is a slushie made with Nat­u­ral Light’s Natur­days, a straw­berry lemon­ade light lager.

“That was the first thing that we put in there, and I think we sold about 150 in the first two days,” Sch­midt says. “We’re not a big space so that’s a big deal for us.”

He says sales are “steady” and cus­tomers have come in look­ing for the drink, at­tract­ing a wider au­di­ence than their typ­i­cal craft beer drinker. Sch­midt says slushie sales are a “sig­nif­i­cant” part of busi­ness and he doesn’t see the ap­peal wear­ing off.

“It doesn’t seem to be a nov­elty where peo­ple are, like, ‘Oh, that’s cool. I’m never gonna do it again,’” he says.

Nima Ha­dian, owner of Shangy’s which boasts of its as­sort­ment of more than 4,000 beers, also has rea­son to cheers.

Ha­dian in­tro­duced a slushie par­lor mar­keted as “The Slushee King” to his Em­maus, Pen­nys­lva­nia, store in May that of­fers a menu of 20 ro­tat­ing slushies made with malt-based or su­gar-based al­co­hol.

The Slushee King op­er­ates sim­i­lar to an ice cream shop, where a cus­tomer tells an em­ployee which slushie they want and in what size cup (10-, 16- or 24-ounce). Slushies are to-go, in a cup with a seal and can not be con­sumed at Shangy’s.

Like Or­ange & Brew, Slushee King has seen suc­cess with a beer slushie. Ha­dian says his cur­rent top-seller is a slushie made with Delir­ium Red, a Bel­gian fruit ale from Huyghe Brew­ery.

COUR­TESY OR­ANGE & BREW BOT­TLE SHOP AND TAP ROOM

The “For­eign Ex­change” beer slushie at Or­ange & Brew Bot­tle Shop and Tap Room in Down­ers Grove.

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