TRAVERSE CITY — Many adults remember eating summertime snow cones as kids. As the temperatures rise, grownups can recreate the drink of many a childhood summer with a version of the frozen beverage just for those of legal drinking age.
“The nice thing about the slushie, the alcoholic slushie drink, is that it tells you with a brain freeze if you are drinking it too fast,” said Mike Brunner, director of retail sales at Grand Traverse Distillery. “It slows you down a little bit.”
The distillery menu offers a refreshing take on the frozen concoction which combines True North Cherry Vodka, Simply Lemonade, and lots of ice. Throw it all in a blender, and viola — or rather, aaahhh.
“It makes just a wonderful, almost a frozen margarita type of cocktail — very refreshing, and the lemonade and the cherry play off of each other really, really well,” Brunner said.
Brunner said he’s experimenting with an additional frozen offering made with a puree of watermelon, and lime juices and natural sugar frozen into ice cubes and then mixed with True North Chipotle Vodka.
“You had the smoke and the heat from the Chipotle Vodka with the sweet and the tart from the watermelon lime ice cube, and it was a nice combination,” he said.
Like distilleries, wineries can help people satisfy their slushie cravings.
Chateau Grand Traverse offers a bountiful list of wines that can be transformed into a cool, summertime delight.
“There’s really a lot you can do with wine besides just pouring yourself a glass,” said Megan Molloy, marketing coordinator for the winery.
A wine slushie made at home can be a healthier choice when mixed with fresh fruit, Molloy said. The winery features 30 wine varieties which offer a range of tastes from dry to sweet. A white wine slushie suggestion combines the winery’s Semi-Dry Riesling with fresh fruit and syrup. Another, the Frosé, features a rosé as the centerpiece ingredient mixed with syrup, strawberries and lemon juice.
Most of the Chateau’s wines are grown and harvested in northern Michigan, said Molloy. So combining a locally produced wine with fruit from local farms provides an authentic taste of northern Michigan.
“Blending that all together is really a refreshing kind of a special treat that you can’t have all year-round,” she added.
Those who prefer a fruity pre-mix can find a fresh, low-sugar option in stores courtesy of Six Lugs cherry products, according to Six Lugs owner Daniel Umulis.
The Traverse City company sells a frozen wine mixer which Umulis said was the first of its kind in northern Michigan.
“We just thought since we’re cherry and we’re in the wine country, we’re in the cherry business, that we need to use more cherries and cherry concentrate, so we just came up with our own version to make wine slushies at home,” he said.
The mixer — a concentrate-based mix of tart cherries, sweet cherry apple, lemon and pomegranate — can be used with any fruit-based wine, said Umulis. It was a big attraction at past National Cherry Festivals, he added.
When it comes to unique blends, people who neglect using tea in their summertime drinks are missing out, said Angela Macke, owner of Light of Day Organics in Traverse City.
“Bars are really missing huge opportunities because tea should be the most profitable item any of these restaurants and bars have, but it’s so underutilized as a culinary ingredient at the bar,” she said.
Macke likes to mix her company’s Sunday Morning, Creamy Earl Grey or Madagascar Vanilla Rooibos tea with tequila or gin and ice. To refresh the slushie-loving child within, she suggests pulsing the tea and spirits with ice in a blender until they reach slushie consistency.
“It’s so, so good,” she said.