The buzz in the air is undeniable. Is it the field crickets, the cicadas, or the katydids making that low humming sound, seemingly screaming that summer has arrived?
Nope. It’s just the blender. Frozen drinks, both the alcohol-infused and booze-free varieties, are the perfect cherry on top of every idyllic summer memory. Prior to 1922, however, those memories included someone’s weary arm because every icy beverage had to be vigorously shaken before the desired drink consistency was achieved. Or at least until the appointed drink shaker surrendered, and a cool, but not frozen or frothy, concoction was served.
Stephen Poplawski was as frustrated as everyone by the amount of muscle it took to make even a common milkshake, so he took matters into his own hands … and out of his arms. As the owner of Stevens Electric Company, Poplawski knew a thing or two about gadgets. He designed a container capable of holding all the wonderful ingredients needed to make the perfect frozen beverage, put a spinning blade at the bottom, connected it to a motor, and patented the whole contraption exactly 100 years ago this past February. The world’s very first blender was born.
Today, you can whip up a milkshake or any other sort of frozen drink faster than you can say Jimmy Buffet’s words to live by: “If life gives you limes, make margaritas.”
The first person to do so was Carlos “Danny” Herrera in his Baja, California, restaurant in 1938. His frozen fabrication became so popular that the makers of Jose Cuervo tequila marketed their product in the United States using the tagline, “Margarita: it’s more than a girl’s name.” And in 1971, when Dallas restaurant owner Mariano Martinez envisioned a world in which this tangy-sweet libation could be simultaneously enjoyed by a whole crowd of thirsty patrons, he invented the margarita machine.
The piña colada — which literally means strained pineapple — was created in 1954 by a bartender and musician in Puerto Rico by the name of Ramón “Monchito” Marrero. Marrero wanted to make a drink that would embody the delights of his homeland, and — using just the right balance of pineapple juice, coconut cream, rum, and ice — he did just that. Since then, the piña colada has been ubiquitously linked to sunset strolls on the beach, poolside shenanigans, and one very popular, impossible-to-forget, late 1970s song.
The creation of the mudslide cocktail was one of those serendipitous events, like the invention of Silly Putty, that occurred when a customer wandered into the Wreck Bar on Grand Cayman Island, asking for a White Russian. No heavy cream was on hand, so the quick-thinking bartender used Bailey’s Irish Cream instead and the resulting beverage was a landslide success.
And while some might consider a frozen daiquiri to be a bit on the feminine side, given its frequent pairing with paper umbrellas and bachelorette parties, it rose to fame partly because one very macho American writer fell in love with this slushy sweet cocktail while residing in Cuba. Ernest Hemingway loved boxing, brawls, bullfights, and … frozen daiquiris.
So grab some friends, some ice, and a bunch of paper umbrellas. Below are recipes to keep your summer humming and your blender buzzing.
Poplawski Piña Colada
Without Stephen Poplawski, the inventor of the blender, we might never have experienced the joys of drinking piña coladas and getting lost in the rain. Approximately 32 years after Poplawski grew weary of actually having to shake his milkshake and patented the blender, “Monchito” Marrero — whose nickname roughly translates to “silly and fun” — decided to fill it with coconut cream, pineapple juice, and rum. And a mere 25 years after that, everyone was singing along to the questionably ethical 1979 hit “Piña Colada Song,” written and performed by Rupert Holmes.
While this drink is undoubtable fun and a tad silly, remember that you will need eventually to return from the dunes on the cape, so drink responsibly.
4 ounces white rum
4 ounces pineapple juice
2 ounces cream of coconut
2 ounces heavy cream
3 cups of ice, preferably crushed
Pineapple wedge, maraschino cherry, paper umbrella for garnish
Fill a blender with the rum, pineapple juice, cream of coconut, heavy cream, and ice, and blend until smooth (if necessary, add more crushed ice). Pour into two tall glasses, garnish with pineapple wedge, maraschino cherry, and paper umbrella, and enjoy.
Variation: Easily turn the Poplawski Piña Colada into a Strawberry “Monchito” Maraschino Colada by adding 1 cup of chopped ripe strawberries to the blender with the other ingredients (you will probably need more ice to achieve a smooth consistency) and garnishing with extra maraschino cherries.
Papa’s Deliciously Decadent Frozen Daiquiri
According to the great American novelist Ernest “Papa” Hemingway, “An intelligent man is sometimes forced to be drunk to spend time with his fools.” That may be why he so loved a drink invented in the 1930s by Constantino “Constante” Ribalaigua Vert, owner of El Floridita, a Havana bar that Hemingway frequently visited.
Indeed, after enjoying more than a few of Constantino’s newly created frozen concoctions, Hemingway’s attitude towards his “fools” softened considerably. He wrote home to his son, “I drank a few highly frozen daiquiris just to see what their effect would be.” Hemingway later concluded that they were “moderately terrific and made me feel a friend of all mankind.”
Do use caution when enjoying these delectable but deceptively strong frozen delights. It’s easy to shoot right past that “friend to all mankind” feeling and then, the next thing you know, you are out at sea, fishing with an old guy named Santiago, surrounded by sharks, and trying to harpoon a giant, 18-foot marlin that just keeps pulling you farther and farther away from land. And that is just weird for everyone.
4 ounces white rum
2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
1 ounce freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
½ ounce maraschino liqueur (substitute Cherry Heering or Amaretto if this is unavailable)
½ ounce simple syrup
2 cups ice (preferably crushed)
2 lime wheels for garnish
Fill a blender with the rum, lime juice, grapefruit juice, maraschino liqueur, simple syrup, and blend until smooth (if necessary, add more crushed ice). Pour into two cocktail glasses, garnish with lime wheels, and enjoy immediately.
Congaree River Mudslide
The Congaree River may serve as the border between Lexington, Calhoun, and Richland counties, but this delicious drink knows no boundaries. In the 1950s, the first mudslide is rumored to have been created inadvertently at the Grand Cayman Island’s Wreck Bar. The bartender ran out of the heavy cream needed for a customer’s White Russian order and used Irish liqueur instead. It was an instant success and has since been enjoyed around the globe.
3 cups vanilla ice cream
3 cups ice
3 ounces vodka
3 ounces coffee flavored liqueur (such as Kahlúa)
3 ounces Irish cream liqueur (such as Baileys)
Chocolate syrup, whipped cream, and chocolate shavings as garnish
Put ice cream, ice, vodka, coffee liqueur, and Irish cream liqueur into a blender, and blend until smooth. Make a chocolate syrup swirl inside 2 tall glasses, then pour the frozen mixture into the glasses and garnish with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Enjoy immediately.
Cocky’s Color-Changing Lemonade Slushies (nonalcoholic)
Cocky delights both kids and adults alike as one of America’s best mascots, and this frozen, nonalcoholic summer refresher will as well. Not only does the combination of lemonade and tea taste great — ask Arnold Palmer! — this drink turns from deep blue to purple to pink, like one big color swirling kaleidoscope in a glass.
The science behind the color swirls lies in the pH balance of the liquids, just as the color of hydrangea flowers are often determined by the pH balance of the soil. As a novice gardener, I am intent on growing deep blue hydrangeas in alkaline soil that yields nothing but pink blossoms. If the plants could talk, they would no doubt scream, “You’re not the boss of me!” every time I add soil acidifier. I find this color-changing lemonade infinitely easier.
Although readily available on Amazon, blue pea flower tea can be difficult to find in your local grocery store. The ice cubes made from this tea need to be made a day before, so prepare ahead of time. But once the ingredients are assembled, it’s remarkably easy.
If you just cannot get your hands on blue pea flower tea, chopped purple or red cabbage can be used as a substitute. And don’t worry, the resulting lemonade will not taste like cabbage.
4 tablespoons of Blue Tea (Butterfly Pea Flower Tea) or ¼ large red or purple cabbage, chopped
2 cups of water
Lemonade (store bought or homemade – but it needs to be yellow)
Sprite or similar soda
In a pot on your stovetop, bring the water to a boil and seep either the blue tea or the chopped cabbage in boiling water for at least 8 minutes or until the water has turned very blue or deep purple. Strain the water into a measuring cup and pour the colored water into ice cube trays, then freeze until completely solid.
Once the colored ice cubes are frozen, crush them, but be sure to leave some bigger chunks as well as finely crushed ice. Put regular ice (not blue!) and lemonade into a blender and blend to create a lemonade smoothie. Divide the lemonade smoothie into clear tall glasses, but only fill each glass halfway up with the lemonade mixture. Top off each glass with the blue crushed ice, add a splash of Sprite, and serve with a straw and stirrer, allowing your guests stir their own drink. The slushies will change color as the ice melts, creating a beautiful and delicious summertime treat!
Martinez Mango Margarita
In 1971, Texas amended its state constitution to allow the sale of mixed alcoholic beverages in bars and restaurants. Mariano Martinez had just opened a Mexican restaurant and bar in a Dallas shopping mall. His bartenders quickly became overwhelmed by the number of patrons ordering Mariano’s father’s famous frozen margaritas, each requiring precise measurements and fresh cut limes, and Mariano was afraid he might lose both patrons and staff.
The next morning, plagued with the problem of making so many margaritas for so many patrons, he stumbled into a 7-Eleven and watched kids quickly and efficiently dispense their Slurpees into their polar bear adorned cups with just one, easy, downward pull of the Slurpee machine spigot. It was a tequila gold moment.
The 7-Eleven company wouldn’t sell him a Slurpee Machine, so Mariano purchased a soft-serve ice cream machine and, using his dad’s original recipe with modifications to make the alcohol freeze, invented the world’s first Frozen Margarita Machine.
Below is a recipe for mango margaritas that sadly must be made without a margarita machine but are still worth the effort.
8 ounces (approximately 1¾ cups) frozen mango chunks
3 ounces silver tequila
1 ounce triple sec
1 ounce fresh lime juice
2 ounces simple syrup
1 cup crushed ice
Lime wedges, sugar, mint sprigs for garnish
Pour some sugar onto a plate, rub a lime wedge around the rims of two cocktail glass to moisten, then invert the glass into the sugar to coat the rim. Place the mango chunks, tequila, triple sec, lime juice, and simple syrup into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the frozen mixture into the sugar-rimmed glasses, garnish with mint sprigs, and serve immediately.
Cool and Combat Ready Colada (nonalcoholic)
The men and women who go through 10 weeks of basic combat training at Fort Jackson’s U.S. Army Training Center face many challenges. They must be physically fit and disciplined in order to learn the combat skills that will transform them into some of our country’s finest American soldiers. Dedicated to these tough trainees, this healthy and delicious frozen beverage, packed with protein, magnesium, potassium, and antioxidants, can be enjoyed by soldiers and civilians alike.
1 medium banana, cut into chunks
½ cup strawberries, sliced
½ cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 tablespoon oatmeal
1 tablespoon honey
1 cup milk
Place all the ingredients in a blender, pulse until smooth and creamy, enjoy immediately. Hooah!
Saluda Shoals Sweet Tea Slushy (nonalcoholic)
The Saluda Shoals Wetland Preserve boasts a calming, quiet environment in which to observe the many different varieties of plants, birds, and animals that thrive in the South Carolina woods. And while enjoying all of that wetland serenity, why not also enjoy a soothing frozen drink to keep you cool all through our hottest months? Enjoy it at home or pack it in an ice-filled cooler before making any Saluda Shoals excursions.
3 cups sweet tea (homemade or store-bought)
Juice of ½ lemon
Lemon wheels and fresh strawberries to garnish
Fill an ice cube tray with 1½ cups sweet tea and freeze until solid, refrigerating the remaining 1½ cups extra sweet tea to be used later. Put frozen sweet tea ice cubes into a blender, along with the lemon juice and any extra sweet tea from the night before and blend until all of the ice is crushed. Put the blended mixture back into the freezer for about 15 minutes in order to achieve a maximum slushy consistency. Pour into 2 Mason jar glasses, garnish with lemon wheels and strawberries, and enjoy.
Lake Murray’s Lemonade Ice Tea Vodka Slushy
Sweet tea vodka has been a South Carolina classic cocktail for years, and the frozen variety is no less popular. Combining the smooth edginess of vodka with the simplicity of an Arnold Palmer (iced tea and lemonade) and then turning it all into a fantastic, frozen summertime cocktail is just pure South Carolina genius.
2 cups of water
2 large iced tea bags
2 additional cups of cold water
½ cups sugar
1 12-ounce can frozen lemonade
1 cup crushed ice
3 ounces vodka
7UP or similar soda
Lemon slices for garnish
In saucepan on stovetop, bring the first 2 cups of water to a boil, remove from heat, add the large tea bags, cover, and steep for 10 minutes. Remove the tea bags and transfer liquid to a bowl. Add the sugar, stir, and refrigerate until fully chilled.
Put chilled tea into a blender, add the frozen lemonade, ice, and vodka, and blend until slushy. Divide the mixture between two glasses until almost full, then top off with soda. Stir to blend, garnish with lemon wedge, and serve immediately.