L.A. summers can be brutal, especially considering how much there is to do and enjoy during the warmer months—and how many of those activities take place outdoors. If you’re already begging your friends to stop inviting you to hike Runyon in 95-degree heat, we’ve got another idea: Sip some of the city’s best new frozen cocktails together, whether you’re poolside, beachside or simply on a shaded patio. Keep cool all year long with these new drinks that are so refreshing, they’re worth braving brain freeze.
The Rustic Canyon family of restaurants is all about seasonal twists on convention, so it should come as no surprise that Cassia’s bar goes a little wild when it comes to piña coladas. You can order the classic, made with a backbone of coconut-infused Santa Teresa 1796 Solera rum, or spruce it up with a lava flow that adds a bright, vinegary house-made strawberry-and-balsamic gastrique to the drink, then tops it all with flecks of volcanic black salt. Suddenly, your sweet-and-creamy sipper’s a little bit savory—and one of the most unusual concoctions on the Westside. $15, with lava flow $16.
Fairfax’s longest-running Thai restaurant is already full of old-meets-new magic, what with sisters Amanda Kuntee and Katy Noochlaor reinvigorating their parents’ restaurant when they took over. But their new summer drink gives tradition even more of a revamp: Pouring from the tap of a carved-elephant keg of sorts is a stream of frosty Chang beer, one of Thailand’s best-selling brews for more than 20 years. And while Thai-food devotees almost always turn to the lager for spice relief, at Chao Krung it comes from the keg in frozen form and as a kind of beer float, meaning you’ve got not only one of the most reliable beers to sooth your tongue—but also a slushie to really cool things down when that larb gets too hot to handle. $7.
There’s frosé, and then there’s frosé by Mitch Ono Bushell. When the seasoned L.A. bar lead built the cocktail program at Venice’s new Gran Blanco, he knew the drinks would have to be as beachy and breezy as the famed boardwalk that sits just one block away. The result? Bright and vibrant crowd pleasers that don’t sacrifice flavor for Instagrammability. Take the frosé, a tart, not-too sweet blend of grapefruit, lemon, Aperol and rosé, all garnished with house-made watermelon jerky that’s so fun we wish we could buy it à la carte to snack on at home. What’s more, fresh-pressed watermelon juice usually joins the concotion, too—when there’s any left from the melons juiced for the mezcal margarita—emblematic of Gran Blanco’s goal to limit waste behind the bar. Sip it under the iconic VENICE sign while you take in the vinyl soundtrack, for best results. $15.
When you’re a little bit goth but a little bit yacht rock, there’s no better summer sipper than the frozen Black Magic at Arts District bar (and glass-blowing studio) High Tide. One of three boozy slushies always on offer, it blends activated charcoal with soju, ginger and lime juice, so you can quench your thirst with something pitch-black and mysterious among the palm fronds and plastic pink flamingos. If the scenery has you feeling a bit more sunshiny, you could always opt for the classic frosé (here with added strawberry and peach purée) or the cotton-candy–blue Desert Ice, made with agave wine and lime juice. Better yet, order the flight of them—we contain multitudes, after all. $12 apiece or $20 per flight.
Sure, Culver’s gorgeous new rooftop bar is kind of a scene—but that’s why you’re here, isn’t it? Make your way through the atrium and its crowd at the door to sip ice-cold cocktails in the outdoor lounge section next to the bar. Just remember that, when you’re this close to the sun, you’re going to need a cooldown: Enter Margot’s rotating cast of frozen slushies, which come brightly hued, topped with dried citrus and speared by colorful paper straws. They taste just as good as they look, whether you’re enjoying the Negroni painkiller, made with gin, bianco vermouth, orange, pineapple and coconut (pictured), or something like the classic Italian sgroppino, here made with vodka, lemon sorbet, prosecco and limoncello. $14.
If you like piña coladas and getting caught sipping them on a roof, take a journey to the top of the NoMad Hotel and settle into some Italian-villa–inspired digs. Here, the drinks—made by one of the best bar teams in the city—lean a little more tropical, with tall, frosty glasses of the pineapple-and-coconut classic potent with Diplomático and Flor de Caña rums and shaded by a little paper umbrella. The rooftop team keeps a watchful eye on the drink’s churning base, monitoring the fat and sugar content to keep the consistency dense and creamy. Liven up your tipple by choosing one of two rotating lava flows, which could weave blue-Hawaiian streaks of green Chartreuse and crème de menthe through your drink or wind red spirals of Campari-heavy jungle bird down the side of the glass. $17, with lava flow $19.
One of L.A.’s frozen-drink stalwarts is still going strong—just as strong as its daiquiris. Since 2010, Preux & Proper has been bringing a little of the Big Easy to the West Coast, and, fittingly, it keeps at least two or three Louisiana-made drink machines constantly whirring to keep up with NOLA levels of party. The option might not be new, but the drink flavors often are—you just need to come back regularly to slurp your way through them all (which, of course, we more than recommend). You might find Day-Glo–bright gin-and-watermelon slushies and margaritas, often infused with house-made liqueurs, but we’re true to Preux’s perennial offering: the sweet and rum-heavy daiquiri. Can’t decide on just one concoction? Ask nicely and your bartender will swirl the flavors together for you, so you’ll be sipping something new every time. $12.
Think of Venice’s Waterfront restaurant and bar as a hyper trendy beach club sans membership fees: You’re practically on the sand, everyone’s attractive, and there are thirst-quenching libations galore. And you can’t get much beachier than sipping frozen drinks right on the Venice Boardwalk, unless you’re drinking cold-pressed juice at the same time. Through ownership ties to juicery mainstay the Butcher’s Daughter, the Waterfront’s frosty cocktails almost always incorporate the café’s cold-pressed infusions, adding green juice, pineapple and anything else you can imagine into the rotating trio of slushies churning behind the Waterfront’s multiple bars. Do we want the paloma with fresh grapefruit and bitter lemon or the margarita with cold-pressed watermelon? Decisions, decisions. $9.
Looking for some alfresco refreshments?
What is it that they say about smog? Oh yeah, beautiful sunsets. Make L.A.’s haze work for you at these cocktail bars and beachside spots, where the views rightfully rival the booze. From Downtown’s bars with stellar sights to seaside cabanas in Malibu and Venice, here are the city’s—literally—top rooftop bars.