Summer is the time for sitting on the porch drinking big glasses of icy cold lemonade and iced tea, but at my house, we also like to experiment with cocktails. You can imagine my level of interest when a friend mentioned he keeps a slushy Cosmo-like concoction in his freezer at all times for the same reason. What made me even more interested is how it is made; pour everything into a container, stir, freeze, and when ready, scoop out into a frosty glass. I now have a few containers in my freezer too!
If you were to order a Cosmo at a bar, you would receive a chilled martini commonly made from a mixture of vodka, lime juice, triple sec and cranberry juice. While there are of course variations, most have these primary ingredients, and all are strained into a martini glass, after first being shaken in a cocktail shaker with ice. The Cosmo has become a staple on many drink menus over the last couple decades and owes part of its popularity to the television show "Sex and the City," where it was the character Carrie Bradshaw's favorite drink.
My friend's recipe calls for many of the above common ingredients, but also adds a little sour mix to keep it from being too sweet, and some water to ensure the mixture freezes to a perfect slushy texture.
I set out on my mission to make my plastic container of chilly goodness. With my measuring cups, large plastic container and variety of bottled ingredients on the counter, I began measuring everything to my friend's specifications, tightly sealed my container and placed it in my freezer. Easy!
The next day, with chilled glasses lined up on my counter and scoop in hand, I removed the container from the freezer only to discover it had not changed consistency at all. No ice crystals were visible, and the only sign of encouragement was that it did, in fact, taste good, but absolutely no slush. This result was discouraging, so I called my friend who responded immediately by saying, "This is an emergency."
He walked me through the recipe again. We discussed everything from his favorite brand of cranberry juice to what type of container I had used and decided there was no reason why it should not have worked. The only variable was my freezer, so he suggested I put the container in another freezer, so I moved the container from my kitchen refrigerator to an upright freezer we keep in our basement. Twenty-four hours later, with some apprehension, I made a return visit to the freezer, and this time met with slushy success!
I will be honest, before I was ready to admit defeat and call my friend, I took to the internet to try to solve the mystery myself. I discovered others had tried a similar process with the margarita, piņa colada and daiquiri. There does seem to be a common theme; alcohol is mixed with juice or fruit of some kind, some batches are processed in a blender before freezing, and all tend to be on the sweet side.
This process will not work with all alcoholic beverages. This recipe works because of the ratio of alcohol to nonalcoholic liquid. The mixture doesn't freeze into a giant ice cube, because the alcohol doesn't freeze, but allows the other liquid to freeze into small shards. I do not claim to be a scientist but definitely can attest to how good the results are when they are in my glass on a hot summer day.
Now that I have one slushy martini mastered I set out to try a few others. I started with one of my favorites: the French martini. Pineapple juice, and Chambord (black raspberry liquor), vodka, and some water. I was met with equal success and have now filled my basement freezer with a variety of other containers containing slushy Lemon Drop, Watermelon and even a Dreamsicle version of traditional martinis.
I am nowhere close to being a martini expert, so these "slushie" drinks may seem like faux cocktails to some, but I don't mind. I like their convenience and refreshing icy consistency, but most of all I like the fact I can easily make them at home and most importantly, they taste good. So, from my porch to yours -- Cheers!
• Penny Kazmier, a wife and mother of four from South Barrington, won the 2011 Daily Herald Cook of the Week Challenge.