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Frozen margarita at Sweet and Vicious
Photograph: Courtesy Sweet and Vicious

The 13 best frozen cocktails in NYC

The perennial drink of summer transcends trends

Amber Sutherland-Namako
Written by
Amber Sutherland-Namako
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Trends come and go whether they illustrate a seemingly organic zeitgeist like this year’s influx of speakeasy-style bars or they’re the product of a carefully orchestrated marketing campaign like the Aperol spritz blitz of 2018. Summer is particularly conducive to the form: A season that somehow feels more ephemeral than the others, making abstract promises of love and holidays, all hazy with the patina of heat. 

Last year’s so-called drink of the summer was the frozen, as it was before, and is once more and will always be. It's the ideal icy canvas to spin anything into with unending possibilities limited only by the imagination (and occasional supply chain issues). The tipping point in 2021 that delivered more frozens than ever before was the proliferation of places newly making room for slushie machines or plugging blenders in behind the bar. 

“I think that frozen drinks are outstanding,” PDT owner Jeff Bell told us in an interview at the time. “I don’t think frozen drinks were received well ten years ago. I think everybody was still in this moral high ground, high horse of like, ‘Oh, that’s a trashy cocktail because it’s frozen.”

But as more and more restaurants and bars were able to create or expand their outdoor seating areas, attitudes changed and soon new frozens were joining our old favorites all over town. And, while the occasional zag to something shiny and new can be cute, frozens are the drink of forever summer in NYC. 

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to summer drinks in NYC

Best frozen cocktails in NYC

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Cobble Hill
  • price 2 of 4

Once you learn that Long Island Bar’s proprietor was one of the smattering of people credited with conceptualizing the cocktail that went on to be Sex and the City’s fifth lead, it follows that the corner spot would have a frozen cosmo. This one’s more opaque than its liquid BFF, with orangey-pink crystals packed tight like a real Miranda, though the subtly retro decor is a little more relaxed.

  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Carroll Gardens
  • price 1 of 4

Although we drink frozen margaritas year round, they soar in popularity once the weather warms up. And Alma’s is best in class. A pale shade of lime, the icy libation is a mix of the tart citrus with tequila, triple sec and agave. It’s served in a short glass that minimizes melting before you can reach its end, which doesn’t take too long while you’re gazing at the skyline view, anyway. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Caribbean
  • Bushwick
  • price 2 of 4

Sally Roots has three frozen cocktails, and they tell us the most popular is the Sundowner. It blends coconut, guava, orange juice, pineapple juice, lime and “All the Rums.” That final key ingredient is the bar’s proprietary house blend of dark, light and overproof rums. You can also get the Sundowner “fun sized,” which, counter to conventional candy wisdom, is a double. Or you can add an additional All the Rums floater. Whether you do both is between you and destiny. 

  • Restaurants
  • Williamsburg

The new iteration of this long-running bar eschews a cocktail menu in favor bartenders who promise, “if you know it, we can make it.” It does, however, have a formal frozen on offer. We guess those are harder to whip up on the fly. The Cuj includes tequila, Aperol, Suze, passionfruit and lime, ideally enjoyed in Maracuja’s recently reopened secret garden. 

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Bushwick

Every angle of Bunton’s interior is so finely styled it’ll take you many happy returns to run out of selfie opportunities. Its 1,400-square-foot patio isn’t half bad, either, and it’s especially suited to savoring drinks on sweetly breezy evenings. You’ll have to keep coming back, in fact, to keep up with its ever-rotating frozen cocktails, which have previously included nicely garnished piña coladas and hurricanes. 

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  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Nolita
  • price 1 of 4

A downtown go-to for nearly a quarter-century, Sweet and Vicious has seven frozen margarita varieties, all served in mason jars with a cherry on top. In addition to classic, its strawberry, peach, mango and guava options are flavored with real fruit, and pomegranate and jalapeño get their kick from infused booze. Sweet and Vicious’ patio, in particular, is a comfortable place to imbibe aside from the crowds of shoppers in nearby Soho and Nolita. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Harlem
  • price 1 of 4

The slushies at Lolo’s Seafood Shack are available with three types of spirits: coconut rum, tequila and vodka. Depending on your tolerance, you can collect ‘em all in one sitting, or keep coming back to find a favorite while you lounge on the back patio. Lolo’s has plenty of crab leg, shrimp and crawfish combos to keep you fortified in either case. 

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  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • Rockaways
  • price 1 of 4

Drinks at the beach are a time-honored tradition pre-dating even this Rockaway staple, which has been open in various iterations since the 1920s. The basement pub is around the corner from Rockaway Beach, so if you’re planning on adding $1 floaters to its styrofoam-cupped piña coladas after a day in the sun, be sure to hydrate. Or, if you’re planning on bringing those babies back to the beach, we won’t tell anyone what’s in the nondescript vessels. Connolly’s is scheduled to reopen for the 2022 season on May 27. 

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