- BY LAURA MICHELS Special to the Record-Eagle
TRAVERSE CITY — Many adults remember eating summertime snow cones as kids. As the temperatures rise, grownups can recreate the drink of many a childhood summer with a version of the frozen beverage just for those of legal drinking age.
“The nice thing about the slushie, the alcoholic slushie drink, is that it tells you with a brain freeze if you are drinking it too fast,” said Mike Brunner, director of retail sales at Grand Traverse Distillery. “It slows you down a little bit.”
The distillery menu offers a refreshing take on the frozen concoction which combines True North Cherry Vodka, Simply Lemonade, and lots of ice. Throw it all in a blender, and viola — or rather, aaahhh.
“It makes just a wonderful, almost a frozen margarita type of cocktail — very refreshing, and the lemonade and the cherry play off of each other really, really well,” Brunner said.
Brunner said he’s experimenting with an additional frozen offering made with a puree of watermelon, and lime juices and natural sugar frozen into ice cubes and then mixed with True North Chipotle Vodka.
“You had the smoke and the heat from the Chipotle Vodka with the sweet and the tart from the watermelon lime ice cube, and it was a nice combination,” he said.
Like distilleries, wineries can help people satisfy their slushie cravings.
Chateau Grand Traverse offers a bountiful list of wines that can be transformed into a cool, summertime delight.
“There’s really a lot you can do with wine besides just pouring yourself a glass,” said Megan Molloy, marketing coordinator for the winery.
A wine slushie made at home can be a healthier choice when mixed with fresh fruit, Molloy said. The winery features 30 wine varieties which offer a range of tastes from dry to sweet. A white wine slushie suggestion combines the winery’s Semi-Dry Riesling with fresh fruit and syrup. Another, the Frosé, features a rosé as the centerpiece ingredient mixed with syrup, strawberries and lemon juice.
Most of the Chateau’s wines are grown and harvested in northern Michigan, said Molloy. So combining a locally produced wine with fruit from local farms provides an authentic taste of northern Michigan.
“Blending that all together is really a refreshing kind of a special treat that you can’t have all year-round,” she added.
Those who prefer a fruity pre-mix can find a fresh, low-sugar option in stores courtesy of Six Lugs cherry products, according to Six Lugs owner Daniel Umulis.
The Traverse City company sells a frozen wine mixer which Umulis said was the first of its kind in northern Michigan.
“We just thought since we’re cherry and we’re in the wine country, we’re in the cherry business, that we need to use more cherries and cherry concentrate, so we just came up with our own version to make wine slushies at home,” he said.
The mixer — a concentrate-based mix of tart cherries, sweet cherry apple, lemon and pomegranate — can be used with any fruit-based wine, said Umulis. It was a big attraction at past National Cherry Festivals, he added.
When it comes to unique blends, people neglecting to use flavorful teas in their summertime drinks "are really missing out", said Angela Macke, owner of Light of Day Organics in Traverse City.
“Bars are really missing huge opportunities because tea should be the most profitable item any of these restaurants and bars have, but it’s so underutilized as a culinary ingredient at the bar,” she said.
Macke likes to mix her company’s Sunday Morning, Creamy Earl Grey or Madagascar Vanilla Rooibos tea with tequila or gin and ice. To refresh the slushie-loving child within, she suggests pulsing the tea and spirits with ice in a blender until they reach slushie consistency.
“It’s so, so good,” she said.
Light of Day’s Creamy Early Grey Slushie made with Tequila or Gin
2 C. prepared Light of Day Organics Creamy Earl Grey Tea
4 oz. Sparkle Donkey Vanilla Tequila or Iron Fish Gin
Lime wedge for garnish
Prepare tea in advance by adding 1 heaping teaspoon Light of Day Organics "Creamy Earl Grey" Tea to 4 cups simmering water in a covered quart jar for 10 minutes, then place jar in refrigerator until well cooled. Then, in blender, combine 2 cups ice, 2 cups steeped and cooled tea (save the rest of the tea for another time), and 4 ounces of Sparkle Donkey Vanilla Tequila or Iron Fish Gin.
Pulse blender until ice is at “slushie” consistency. Pour into 2 tall salt-rimmed glasses and garnish with lime wedge.
— Light of Day Organics
Link to buy Creamy Earl Grey Tea: https://lightofdayorganics.com/order/creamy-earl-grey-tin_3191/
A slushie made with Chateau Grand Traverse’s 2018 Semi Dry Riesling is displayed at The Inn at Chateau Grand Traverse in Traverse City.
Chateau Grand Traverse's White Wine Slushie
2 C. white wine, we recommend Chateau Grand Traverse Semi-Dry Riesling
3 C. fresh or frozen fruit (berries, peaches or pineapple)
½ C. simple syrup (add by teaspoon and taste after each addition until reaching desired sweetness)
Freeze the two cups of wine in ice cube trays or a pan overnight, along with the fruit you will be using. Combine all in the blender, blend and serve.
If you prefer sweeter wines, we recommend substituting the Semi-Dry Riesling for the CGT Late Harvest Riesling. Reduce the amount of simple syrup added to the blend and taste before serving. Add more simple syrup based on your personal taste preference.
To make your wine slushie even more unique, select two fruits (let’s say strawberry and peach) and blend them separately with the wine and simple syrup mixture, using half the recipe amounts for each of the fruit blends (1 ½ cups sliced strawberries, 1 cup white wine, and ¼ cup simple syrup for strawberry; 1 ½ cups peaches, 1 cup white wine and ¼ cup simple syrup for peach). Gently pour the two blends, one on top of another, to give the drink an impressive, layered look.
— Chateau Grand Traverse
Chateau Grand Traverse's Frosé
1 bottle rosé, we recommend Chateau Grand Traverse 2017 Etcetera Rosé
½ C. simple syrup
1 C. quartered strawberries
¼ C. fresh lemon juice
Freeze the rosé overnight in ice cube trays or a freezer-safe container. Combine the strawberries and simple syrup over medium heat in a pot, stirring occasionally for five minutes. Put the strawberry mixture in the refrigerator until chilled. Combine all ingredients in a blender, blend and serve immediately.
— Chateau Grand Traverse
Six Lugs Frozen Wine
1 bottle Six Lugs Frozen Wine Mixer
750 ml bottle of wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Pinot Grigio work well)
Fruit for garnish
Pour one bottle of Six Lugs Frozen Wine Mixer into the red freezer bag (included with purchase). Refill the bottle with water and pour into the bag, then add one 750 ml bottle of your favorite wine. Mix well and place in freezer for at least 6-8 hours. Garnish with your favorite fruit (we love adding fresh picked cherries, of course) and enjoy in a single serving or share with friends. Mix will keep for up to 30 days.
— Six Lugs