Portable frozen cocktails are a way of life in south Louisiana, where drive-through Daiquiri shops have been popular since the 1980s. New Orleans bartender Nick Detrich, who got his start at Cure before opening the French Quarter watering hole Cane & Table in 2013, puts a fancy-cocktail twist on the tradition…sort of. He mixes sophisticated cocktails—then puts them in the freezer in plastic bags to make slushes that are as well-suited to Mardi Gras or Jazz Fest as they are for a hot day on any Southern lake or beach.
“Around Carnival time, people will often put Otter Pops [the freezer pops in plastic tubes] in their coolers while making the rounds to see different parades,” Detrich says. “I just doubled down by freezing cocktails that also help keep the beer cold.”
The slushes are super-easy to make: Pour the ingredients into a zip-top plastic bag, seal, and freeze. Detrich’s secret is calibrating the ratio of ingredients to yield a mixture with just the right alcohol and sugar content to freeze into a slushy consistency—too much alcohol and the mix will remain liquid; not enough sugar and it’ll freeze completely solid.
Mix one big batch—each recipe makes 2-3 quarts—in a gallon-sized bag, or divide into single servings in sandwich-sized bags. Press the air out of each bag to leave room for the mixture to expand as it freezes, and place them on a baking sheet as insurance against a spill. There’s the tart and fruity Fino Hemingway, which swaps the rum in Ernest’s favorite Daiquiri for nutty (and lower-alcohol) sherry; the Royal Americano, which mixes bitter Campari, herbal sweet vermouth, and Coca-Cola for a complex refresher; and a seriously boozy Mint Julep.