Chances are you have no idea who Mariano Martinez is, but it’s likely his invention of the first alcoholic slushie machine has made the nights of many as blurry as they are unforgettable.
In 1971, he tinkered with a soft-serve ice cream machine to create the first frozen slurpee-type alcoholic beverage machine, forever upgrading crushed-ice margaritas to the dangerously delicious drinks we’re familiar with now. That machine is now on loan at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. And it didn’t just give us frozen margaritas. It gave us a parade of frozen painkillers, palomas, frosés, caipirinhas…
So who has the best frozen goods in Bushwick this summer? Where should you go for your brain-freezing needs? We found out. If you want to follow along (or make a day of it), here’s a map on Google.
The Painkiller at Syndicated Brooklyn
Syndicated Brooklyn has probably the best classic painkiller in the area. The consistency is killer smooth and they even garnished old-school style with a little grated nutmeg on top. A balanced and boozy frozen delight that comes in two sizes, the painkiller is the perfect accompaniment to the bar’s schedule of sidewalk screenings. It’s made with funky Jamaican rum, pineapple, orange, cream of coconut, and that magic dusting of nutmeg. A 9oz pour goes for $12 and a 16oz for $15. It’s pictured here with their Frosé (rosé, vodka, grapefruit, lemon, dry vermouth, and dry curaçao).
The Pandan Painkiller from Sweet Chili
The frozen painkiller at Sweet Chili has been their most popular cocktail, but it comes with a twist. Both the color and the unique nutty, roasted vanilla flavor come from pandan, a fragrant tropical plant hailing from Southeast Asia. Of their invention, Sweet Chili says “it has a great balance of flavors that keeps people coming back for them again and again.” Bonus points for a frozen drink being this good and going for $10. Unfortunately, Sweet Chili is leaving us permanently on June 25th, so drop in while you can.
The Spicy Hibiscus Paloma at The Rookery
A relative newcomer to the menu at The Rookery, this is the perfect complement to the plethora of creamy painkillers and tart margaritas that reign over much of the Bushwick frozen drink scene. The hibiscus water’s floral notes are well-balanced against the heat of the local Tanteo-brand jalapeno tequila, and the grapefruit makes it the ultimate crushable summer drink. It’s also very pretty to look at and pairs well with one of the new burgers from Chef Cesar Botello. $13.
Mama Tried at Evil Twin Brewing (Selma’s Bar)
Mama Tried, a frozen mango mezcal margarita, is making all our dreams come true on the Bushwick-Ridgewood border. The drink comes to the Evil Twin menu by way of Selma’s Bar, a speakeasy that opened behind the Evil Twin taproom last March. Despite difficult beginnings, their rotating menu of frozen slushies have since become part of the Evil Twin experience, even making it to their newly-opened taproom in Dumbo. Mama Says is a delicious mix of Bruxo X-brand mezcal, Rockey’s Milk Punch (made in Brooklyn), lime, mango, and jalapeno agave. Topped with volcanic salt and tajin for a tangy salty rush, these go for $12 (9oz) and $15 (12oz.) No longer on the menu, however, are Selma’s frozen Mai Tais, an unsung hero of 2020.
Piña Colada at Pearl’s Social & Billy Club
Pearl’s is a neighborhood mainstay off the Jefferson L stop. It’s a cozy spot complete with votive candles, mason jars and retro vibes. They also have some impressive tiki mugs (pictured) that they use for their frozen piña coladas. Their mix is lean and classic, made up of rum, the best coconut purée, pineapple, and all topped with a dark rum float to make things extra boozy and offset some of the cloying sweetness you often find in a frozen piña colada. This place also allows outside food while you’re imbibing, which makes it feel extra relaxed. $12!
The Whiskey Sour at Birdy’s
One of Bushwick’s divey–but still hip–joints, Birdy’s has kept it real with its punk rock vibes, no-frills atmosphere and the sticky pinball machines in the back. It makes sense, then, that their frozen offering is a delicious whiskey sour that Birdy’s keeps classic with fresh lemon juice, whiskey and sugar. Menu hack: you can have it as is, or add a float of Cherry Heering to make it a “Cherry Bomb.” The regular frozen whiskey sour will set you back $9.
Samurai Sling at Abe’s Pagoda
Admittedly, frozen drinks with a vodka base don’t have a reputation for being overly sophisticated. But the Samurai Sling at Abe’s Pagoda challenges that misconception with a surprisingly complex offering. The drink boasts an array of ingredients (and alcohols): vodka, honeydew melon, key lime, kiwi, velvet falernum, gin, ginger, aloe, Malibu rum, mandarin orange, matcha green tea, pineapple, pear, cucumber and coconut water. What could be too tropical and sickly in the wrong hands is delightful and refreshing at Abe’s. But get it before it’s gone! It’s a seasonal drink and will be leave the menu come August 31st. Get it at $12 for 12oz, $16 for 16oz or $28 for a mammoth 32oz.
Hennessy Colada at The Sampler
Although they didn’t invent the Hennessy Colada, The Sampler made it iconic in Bushwick. It’s one of those low-key places that contribute to the artistic life of the neighborhood, and these days they are featuring the work of artist FUNQEST. Their Henny Colada is made either frozen or on the rocks and features the infamously good Coco Lopez with pineapple juice, Hennessy, and rum. And only $12 too!
Frosty the Frozen Flamingo at Dromedary Bar
Perhaps Bushwick’s most established tiki bar, Dromedary shakes things up by losing the rum for its most popular frozen drink entry. Instead of rum, Frosty the Frozen Flamingo uses a boozy slush of vodka, guava, lavender and lemon, topped with a sparkling rosé. It’s still tropical and playful in the best of ways, served in an inflatable pink flamingo. It’s only $12, and you can make it even deadlier by adding a pony of Medallita Light for $3 more.
Sundowner Cocktail at Sally Roots
Sally Roots is now a staple of the neighborhood, so it’s easy to forget that their menu comes from such a sharp pedigree as the East Williamsburg cocktail bars Featherweight and Sweet Science. That cocktail resume is put to use with the Sundowner, the most popular frozen on their menu. It has coconut, guava, orange juice, pineapple juice, lime and all the rums: a deadly delicious combination of dark, light, and over-proofed rums that are batched together in-house. The drink is $12 for a regular size or $20 for a fun size. You can also add an additional float of all the rums for $4.
If you want to make your own painkillers at home, all it takes is Pusser’s Rum, Coco Lopez, unsweetened pineapple juice, orange juice, and a little grated nutmeg if you’re feeling fancy. Cheers 2021! And god bless Mariano Martinez.
Image courtesy of Sally Roots Instagram.
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