A beer tastes good when you’re watching a football game, and red wine is the perfect accompaniment to a steak dinner, but nothing says "party time" quite like a frosty blender drink. It’s one of the constants of the universe: blend up some hard liquor with fruit and ice so it looks like dessert, and no one can turn down a glass.
Your local megamart probably carries several dozen frozen drink mixes in bottles or buckets. While those products will indeed help you create a halfway decent beverage, they’re usually full of artificial ingredients and yield a drink texture that’s a little on the thin side. Making alcoholic blender drinks from scratch is about as easy as using a mix, and the results taste better than anything you’ll get from a bucket.
The first thing you’ll want to have, of course, is a good blender. In this case, good means at least 400 watts. You need the power to crush the ice well; if your blender isn’t strong enough, you’re likely to have bigger chunks of ice in your beverage. And you’ll want to use a traditional, upright blender with a jar -- it’s the kind your mom used to keep on the counter. A stick blender may be great for pureeing soups, but it won’t create a smooth daiquiri, and you’re likely to be wearing more of your drink than you actually ingest.
The next thing you’ll want to consider is your alcohol. The rule here is that the better the quality of alcohol you choose, the better your drink will taste. There are so many different brands of vodka, rum, and other liquor available that choosing can be a little intimidating. Avoiding the cheapest bottle on the shelf may seem obvious, but you also might not need to get the most expensive bottle, either. These very high-end spirits often taste good over ice on their own, and the subtleties of flavor for which you’re paying extra might be obscured when they get whirred together with ice and other ingredients. Go mid- to mid-high range when selecting your booze and you’ll have a great drink without going broke.
You can also experiment with flavored liquor. Infused vodka is especially easy to find in flavors like raspberry, lemon, vanilla, and even cinnamon. Spiced rums can add a new flavor dimension to your drinks, and an ounce of two of schnapps in a fruity blender drink can also add a terrific, unexpected taste.
To make a great blender drink, you can follow any of the recipes below. But you don’t always need a recipe to have a tasty result. Your favorite combination of fruit, juice, and even ice cream or sorbet will likely taste good when blended with alcohol and ice. Use fruit that’s in season, and make sure it’s extremely cold by sticking it in the freezer for at least 30 minutes before blending. Or, pre-frozen fruit from the freezer section in the grocery store works perfectly. Add a little sugar or honey if you like your drink sweet. Fresh juices and even juice concentrate will add to the flavor, and ice cream will give it a thicker texture. A good rule of thumb is one big handful of fruit, one to two ounces of alcohol, a small scoop of ice cream (if you’re using it), and about half a cup of juice per drink. Topping your drinks with a little sweetened whipped cream is a nice touch, as is a garnish of fresh fruit.
Here is some alcoholic blender drink recipes to get you started:
Combine 3/4 cup of rum, 1 cup of strawberries or bananas, 1/4 cup of lime juice, 1-2 tablespoons of sugar or honey, and 1 cup of ice in a blender. Pour into four glasses, top each with a small spiral of whipped cream, and garnish with a fresh strawberry.
First, rub a lime wedge around the rims of four glasses, then dip each rim into a shallow dish of kosher salt. For the drink, blend 1/4 cup of freshly squeezed lime juice, 3/4 cup of tequila, 1/4 cup of Cointreau or other orange liqueur, 2-3 tablespoons of sugar (depending on the freshness of the limes and on how sweet you like your drink), and 1 1/2 cups of ice. Serve in salted glasses. If you don’t like salt, or if you prefer a very sweet drink, try using granulated sugar on the glasses instead. For a flavor variation, add 1 cup of strawberries, raspberries, or blackberries.
In your blender, buzz 3/4 cup of rum, 1 1/2 cups of pineapple juice, 3/4 cup of coconut milk (canned is fine), 1 cup of ice, and 1-2 tablespoons of sugar if you like a very sweet drink. When creamy, pour into four glasses and garnish with a pineapple wedge.
Frozen melon ball
Blend 3/4 cup of Midori, 1/4 cup of vodka, 1 cup of pineapple juice, juice from 1/2 a lime, 1 cup of cubed cantaloupe or honeydew, 1-2 tablespoons of sugar (if you like it sweet), and 1 cup of ice. Pour into four chilled glasses.
Frozen espresso milkshake
Combine 3/4 cup espresso, 1/2 cup Kahlua, 1/4 cup vodka, 1 cup of milk, 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream, and 1 1/2 cups of ice in blender. When blended and creamy, pour into four glasses. For a mocha shake, squeeze in chocolate syrup to taste and, if you have it, add 1/4 cup of chocolate flavored liqueur in place of the vodka.
Strawberry vanilla freezes
Add 1/2 cup of vanilla-flavored vodka, 2 cups of strawberries, the juice of one lime, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and 1 cup of ice to your blender. Buzz until smooth, pour into four martini glasses, and garnish each with a fresh strawberry.