When it comes to cocktails, by no means does "frozen" necessarily translate to "frilly." In fact, one hot spot in the Midwest has a menu of high-end, rock-star cocktails all served frozen. Inspired by the heat and in a toast to the 4th of July, this week we decided to follow suit and take the gin and tonic, that most sublime summertime sip, to the frozen side of cocktails.
I took some tips from the pros, Kansas City's Snow & Co., Artful Frozen Cocktails for this one, where the place is packed even when it's cold outside. I found that their key is to use all the best ingredients you can find, including high-end spirits, and to use fresh juices when possible.
When it comes to freezing, they recommend either using your ice cream machine or simply preparing the drinks granita-style. Jerry Nevins, owner of Snow & Co., says, "We like the fact that it all freezes together. Most people keep their spirits at room temperature, so it melts the ice faster. Usually you slurp up the booze and have a bunch of non-boozy ice left over. That's not always the case ... but that's commonly how we feel about blended drinks."
In a pinch, like a happy hour you need to pull off in 10 minutes' time, your blender can be your backup. I also found these frozen G&T's don't last long once you start sipping, so leftover non-boozy ice was not a problem when I whipped up my blender batch. However, if you want a truly frozen sip, here's the scoop:
Ice Cream Machine Method: This results in a nicely scoopable, iced emulsion of a frozen Gin & Tonic — perfect for sipping by the pool. However, seeing that this column is about The 10-Minute Happy Hour, you need to know that this method takes more like 20 to 25 minutes. You also need to remember to put the bowl of your ice cream machine in the freezer the night before.
For this method, replace the 2 cups of ice with 1 3/4 cups of water, and add 1/4 cup of simple syrup. Combine all of the ingredients and churn for about 20 minutes or according to your ice cream machine's instructions. Scoop into glasses and garnish with a fresh lime wedge.
Granita Style: For this method, replace the ice with 1 1/2 cups of water. You end up with a drink the consistency of shaved ice. In a freezer-safe container, combine all of the ingredients and stir to combine. Place in the freezer and check after half an hour. Stir and replace in the freezer. Continue stirring every 20 minutes until the ingredients have started to become icy. Keep in the freezer until ready to serve. Again this method would have to take place the night before you want to serve this cocktail. Scrape the ice into glasses and garnish with lime.
Frozen Gin & Tonic
1 cup gin, such as Hendrick's Gin
1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
3 cups tonic water (preferably an artisan tonic like Q Tonic or Fever Tree, or homemade if you've got it)
2 cups ice
Lime wedge or wheels for garnish
Combine the gin, lime juice, tonic, and ice in a blender. Blend until evenly combined and the consistency of a milkshake. Scoop into glasses and garnish with lime.