Born to Freeze

Not all frozen drinks have to be high-octane. Here's how to give low-proof drinks, from Sherry Cobblers to Garibaldis, their turn in the blender.

Ice-cold blender drinks have a reputation for being deceptively strong, their potency often masked by brain-freeze and playful paper parasols. Forgoing typical base spirits in favor of lower-octane sherry or Campari, however, or simply scaling back the quantity, can highlight brighter, fruitier flavors in a more sessionable format.

Low-proof by nature, the Sherry Cobbler’s traditional recipe doesn’t need much rejiggering when adapting it to the frozen format. In his Frozen Sherry Cobbler, Rob Krueger opts to use an ounce of lemon oleo saccharum in lieu of standard simple syrup to double-down on the puckering bite while still providing balanced sweetness. Sherry also stars in the Amoxicillin, an icy iteration of the oft-riffed-upon modern classic, the Penicillin. Inspired by Diamond Reef’s frozen Penichillin, this low-proof riff on a riff swaps blended Scotch for oloroso sherry.

The Garibaldi’s straightforward combination of Campari and fresh orange juice has amassed a legion of well-loved reinventions, from fluffy crowns of OJ to bubbly floats of prosecco—it was only a matter of time before the aperitivo stalwart got the blender treatment. To make a drink as craveable as its frothy forerunner, scale back the Campari and add more orange juice before giving it a whirl with crushed ice.

However, not all sessionable frozen drinks eschew full-proof spirits entirely. In the agave-forward Once Over #2, Cure’s Ryan Gannon calls for both tequila and mezcal in small quantities, joined by Aperol, orgeat, lime juice and mint for a frozen take on a summer sour. 

And to skip the blender step altogether, consider the classic Sgroppino—the semifreddo of cocktails. Simply whisk together a large scoop of lemon sorbet in a bowl with prosecco, limoncello and a splash of vodka for a low-ABV palate cleanser that doubles as dessert.

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