During hot summer months there’s nothing more relaxing than happy hour with a frozen drink. A blended margarita or a glass of frosé will help you unwind and cool off at the same time. Restaurants have an advantage here: they have specialized machinery. If you’re hoping to recreate your favorite frozen drinks at home, try these tips and tricks for the best results. 

frozen pina colada recipe
An icy piña colada is the perfect summer treat

How do frozen drink machines work 

Restaurants, bars, and gas stations aren’t firing up a blender every time you order a slurpee or a margarita. They have specialized equipment for making frozen drinks. You’ve probably seen the big rotating vats of frozen beverages at a bar or 7-Eleven near you. The key difference between those machines and your blender is that they don’t pulverize ice—professional machines churn a liquid base while it freezes to create a smooth drink full of tiny frozen ice crystals. These results can be difficult to replicate at home. 

Tips for making frozen drinks with a blender

The easiest way to make frozen drinks at home is with a blender. This method recreates the frosty texture of a frozen drink machine by mixing pulverized ice and flavorings. The biggest challenge is getting the ice to blend smoothly. Here’s how to get the most of your blender. 

Freeze some ingredients 

Starting with frozen fruits or cubes of frozen juice will help you achieve a frosty texture, and will keep your drink from diluting as it melts. 

Start small

Don’t overfill the blender! Keep the ingredients below the 2/3rds line to make sure everything will run smoothly. 

Pay attention to ice 

Big, clear ice cubes are great in a cocktail, but they’ll overwhelm your blender. Starting with small or crushed ice will set you up for success when it’s time to pulverize. 

The amount of ice matters too. Aim for a 2:1 ratio of ice to other stuff. That should give you a drink that’s both frosty and flavorful. 

Fruits on the bottom, ice on the top 

Arranging softer, easily crushable ingredients on the bottom of the blender will help you achieve an even blend. As the soft fruits are drawn into the blades, they’ll carry ice along with them. 

Add liquid 

If your blender gets stuck, try adding a little juice or water. The extra liquid will help keep things moving. 

Have fun with it! 

Grab a cocktail umbrella or garnish with a piece of fruit. Frozen drinks are all about good vibes and relaxation. 

For more cold drink inspiration, try these frozen daiquiris on a stick.