“I’m as pure as the driven slush,” Tallulah Bankhead once said. And like husky-voiced stage actresses who wound up in the Hays Committee’s “Doom Book” for frank discussions of their sexual habits, we prefer our frozen drinks highly adulterated. Summer is a fickle beast around these parts, but there’s always a time and place to stare at a slowly rotating drum of frozen cocktails, waiting to be poured.
The rosé resurgence has hogged the spotlight lately — Calistoga’s Sterling Vineyards even throws a RoséFest that guests access via gondola — but our hearts are still with frozen cocktails. Here are our favorite alternatives to hitting 7-Eleven for a Slurpee, taking five sips, then filling it up again with vodka.
25 Lusk St.
Seven-year-old SoMa restaurant 25 Lusk recently built out a bar called Rooftop 25, and that is where you can snack on roasted oysters and roasted bone marrow while drinking a frozen Irish Coffee, the vodka-spiked Arnold Palmer known as a John Daly, or a spicy passion fruit margarita. N.B.: You can also get adult Otter Pops meant to evoke a caipirinha.
Pier 1 ½, The Embarcadero
Nitrous is gauche, but nitrogen is great. This spring, S.F.’s premier waterfront Peruvian restaurant debuted a couple of liquid-nitrogen cocktails, which emerge from a cloud of smoke like cinematic special effects and melt slowly in your hand as you drink them. They’re a fine pair, too. A wine-less Froze Rosé made with gin, Aperol, Lillet Rose, and strawberry complements the sturdier Spiked Punch, a blend of vodka, Fernet, orange, passion fruit, mint, Crème de Noyaux, and soda.
2200 Market St., Suite B
When you were a kid, where did you go on hot summer days after The Price Is Right ended? The arcade! Luckily, you’re an adult who can do whatever you want, like pump quarters into the machines at the Castro’s Brewcade, which has been selling five types of Grape Drank ever since it opened. A frozen mix of sparkling grapefruit wine and a dry Riesling, it comes in five varieties, like strawberry, watermelon, peach, green apple, and O.G. Of course, you’re highly likely to put one by your feet while you finish pummelling Detroit with George and Lizzie in Rampage.
2032 Union St.
Chile mango margaritas sound pretty tasty, but for a few bucks less, the Palm House Slushy is a great bet. Made with white rum and spiced rum, plus fresh lime juice, it’s a step above high-fructose corn syrup and Yellow No. 5. For a dollar more, you can get a guava, passion fruit, or strawberry version, but for another $4, you can release the kraken in the form of a Kraken rum float. This is the very same building that once housed the stables for which Cow Hollow is named, meaning Palm House proves that slushies are elegant.
3161 24th St.
You can’t spell “slushie” without “lush,” and 24th Street Korean spot Foxsister has frozen soju concoctions to go with all the fried chicken and kimchi hellfire stew. Four options — piña colada, peach daiquiri, watermelon-ginger-lime, and rosé — mean it might take a little trial-and-error to find the best one, but fortunately Foxsister is the kind of place whose menu and decor encourage going a little overboard. (P.S., the watermelon-ginger-lime is the best one.)
842 Valencia St.
Maybe your grandparents had a home slushy machine that they rolled out every time they served fondue to the neighbors, and maybe they didn’t. But Valencia’s new, mod cocktail spot The Beehive has the Gemini, a house-made Tang slushy with vodka and manzanilla that’s straight out of the Age of Aquarius. It’s not so cold that it froze in the cold vacuum of space, but it’s definitely cool.
632 20th St.
Pretty much setting the gold standard for margaritas, year-old Dogpatch Mexican spot Glena’s sells them by the glass for $12 and by the pitcher for $42. Having switched from fast-casual to table service earlier this year, it remains a haven for clever drinks, like the Mayan Sazerac (which contains the anise-and-honey liqueur xtabentún). And if you want a non-frozen drink with a frozen ingredient in it, there’s always The Hoff (Mezcal Verde and coconut horchata, topped with a frozen strawberry-blood orange daiquiri).
2501 Mariposa St.
Produced by Carthusian monks since the mid-18th century, Chartreuse is a venerable liqueur that consists of more than 100 distinct herbs and botanicals, and it’s a rarity in that it ages after it’s bottled. That didn’t stop industry insider Paul Einbund from putting it in a slushy, though. The Morris’ frozen treat looks almost exactly like a margarita, but with an entirely different flavor profile.
3608 Taraval St.
This Outer Sunset bar opened in November, and while it’s not unheard of to have better beach days in the run-up to Thanksgiving than over July 4 weekend, we’re living for its version of a slushie. If fog throws a wrench in your base-tan plans, drink a Monkey Wrench instead. Made with Havana Club rum, coconut, lime, and seaweed, it’s an alternative to some of the cloyingly sweet alternatives out there. Seaweed! Did you know that when Venus was born of the foam of the sea, the kelp that draped her wasn’t nearly as divine as this?