6 Charleston Locals Share Their Favorite Frozen Beverages in Town

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    katepbryan
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    6 Charleston Locals Share Their Favorite Frozen Beverages in Town
    Published: August 3, 2023

    Frozen beverage options a la Home Team BBQ.

    It’s August. Summer, as we know it, as it is mythologized, idealized, and imagined, is technically in its home stretch, winding toward a close.

    We hope you’ve filled your days with the season’s greatest activities: cutting out of work early, getting a bit pink in the sun, schlepping a cumbersome folding chair and sandy towel in from the beach, and sipping on something delicious in the late evening sun. Something frozen, might we add. 

    If you’ve been following Extra Chill for a bit, you know that we’re proponents of the frozen beverage (we even made a playlist about it). But if you, heaven forbid, aren’t as familiar with the sweet, frosty sip of paradise that is a liquor concoction blended with ice, fear not. We’ve tapped six local experts to fill us in on their favorite spots in Charleston to score a frozen beverage. 

    Read on to learn how they first came to love frozen drinks, see their local picks, and get ready to be inspired to fill your last month of summer with the best frosty refreshment that Charleston has to offer. 

    Julie Bailey (aka Jules)

    Photographer, Costume and Clothing Designer, and Regular at The Royal American

    Photo courtesy of Julie Bailey

    How did you become a frozen drink connoisseur? 

    I had an icee/slushie addiction as a child and I think that pretty much set me up to love frozen drinks for the rest of my life! Plus a frozen drink makes drinking way more fun, I always feel like I’m on a tropical vacation when I have a frozen drink in my hand.

    When it comes to frozen drinks, what separates the best from the rest? 

    The best frozen drinks have to have a refreshing taste, all of the flavors need to be complementary to each other and make something that’s dangerously good. A lot of places have a problem with either making theirs too syrupy or mixing flavors that don’t go well together. Bonus points if the drink matches the environment, frozen drinks are supposed to be special so making them stand out and represent the bar or restaurant makes it even better.

    What is your number one favorite frozen beverage in Charleston, and why? 

    My current favorite frozen drink in Charleston is definitely Little Palm’s Green Light, hands down. The flavors go so well together, I’m also a sucker for honey dew, but what makes this drink the best is how well it represents the environment and feel of the location. The flavors represent what is around you and really do make you feel like you’re on a vacation.

    Green Light by @littlepalmbar.

    Miles White

    Co-Owner, Graft Wine Shop

    Photo courtesy of Graft Wine Shop.

    How did you become a frozen drink connoisseur? 

    It’s amazing to me that it took so long for frozen drinks to come around to the mainstream. Growing up in Charleston, I was usually surrounded by muggy heat. I would always balance this with an Icee – I wanted an Icee machine for many, many birthdays, even into my 30’s. Queue the high school years and then came along a cherry Icee with mom and dad’s vodka and sneaking into Wet Willie’s on East Bay St.

    It was almost ceremonious at that point, a baptism of Everclear-laden sweetened ice. I will always remember the taste of a Call-A-Cab mixed with Shock Treatment.

    Now there seems to be a renaissance of the frozen drink and you can find them all over downtown. From the trashiest to the classiest, I love it all.

    When it comes to frozen drinks, what separates the best from the rest? 

    Frozen drinks are like pizza to me. If you put it in front of me, I will enjoy it. Even a bad frozen drink is still pretty good. Some people prefer crushed in a blender and some prefer churned in a multi-thousand dollar machine: I have no preference.

    When I pony up at the bar at The Ordinary, I feel as confident as I do when I see the Island Oasis carton come out on Shem Creek. For me personally, though, I couldn’t care less about frosé (or any wine based frozen drink for that matter). Frozen drinks should be liquor based. Speaking of liquor, order your floaters, people. Always get a floater.

    What is your number one favorite frozen beverage in Charleston, and why? 

    This is hard for me and I’m going to give an annoying response. Like I said earlier, I would go in blindly to The Ordinary and get whatever is coming out of that machine. Christian Favier is a magician and if he told me he had a surströmming flavored frozen drink, I reckon I’d try it.

    So my first answer is whatever is frozen at The Ordinary and my second is pretty controversial but idgaf call me when you try it – the Frozen Irish Coffee at Home Team Barbeque WITH a Rumple Minze floater. The Rumple Minze is necessary and makes a delightful concoction. Frozen Irish Coffee + Rumple Minz floater + Wings + Death Relish is my almost weekly vice.

    Adam Jones (aka Jonesy)

    Bartender, The Royal American

    Photo courtesy of Adam Jones.

    How did you become a frozen drink connoisseur? 

    I have loved frozen drinks since I was a kid – of course they weren’t as much fun back in the day. My dad was always the life of the party on the beach when we were kids and would run an extension cord all the way from our camper to the beach – blending up some of the best drinks and soaking up rays while listening to Jimmy Buffett.

    What is your number one favorite frozen beverage in Charleston, and why? 

    When I’m not behind the bar at The Royal American slinging punches, you can find me sipping on a Miami Vice at Red’s Ice House. Although they are known for their sunset margarita, the Miami Vice is my go-to.

    When it comes to frozen drinks, what separates the best from the rest? 

    In my opinion, three things make a great frozen drink – atmosphere, ingredients, and an Island Oasis machine. Along with some of the best bar staff in Charleston, Red’s Ice house checks all these boxes for me.

    Photo courtesy of Adam Jones.

    Taylor Flynn

    Local Band Manager, Photographer, and Frozen Marg Aficionado

    Photo courtesy of Taylor Flynn.

    How did you become a frozen drink connoisseur? 

    I love smoothies, so I think in my brain it’s basically the same thing.

    When it comes to frozen drinks, what separates the best from the rest? 

     I think the blending is really the biggest part. Cant have ice cubes but can’t be too thick!! You have to be able to get a good sip without it being too thick or icy. (It has to be.. extra chill. 😬)

    What is your number one favorite frozen beverage in Charleston, and why? 

    The frozen gin and tonic at Leon’s Oyster Shop. Or a game changer from Home Team is kind of a staple in the frozen drink community here. I’ve made it a personal mission to try every frozen margarita in town and right now I think I’d have to say Taco Boy is in the lead. The mixture is perfect, texture is perfect. Azul is a close second! Rio Chico has a frozen glass that’s literally 2 feet tall and the size of my head…. That’s always a good time.

    Leon’s Oyster shop frozen gin and tonic by @cooleatsclub.

    Chris Wilcox

    Musician

    Photo of a man and his trusty Cleanblend Commercial Blender courtesy of Chris Wilcox.

    How did you become a frozen drink connoisseur? 

    I fell in love with frozen beverages in college. Whether it was a healthy frozen beverage in the morning to start my day off right, or an alcoholic frozen beverage to kickstart my evening, I fell in love with all the combinations you could throw in a blender. While I don’t recommend a liquid diet, you can certainly lead a healthy life running on frozen beverages alone.

    When it comes to frozen drinks, what separates the best from the rest? 

    Quality ingredients. A top shelf frozen beverage, alcoholic or not, requires good, fresh ingredients. With fresh fruit, you can spare the sugar. For me, less sugar increases drinkability. Also, with the correct combination of fruits and other fun ingredients, there’s no telling what the alcohol content might be!

    What is your number one favorite frozen beverage in Charleston, and why? 

    I’m fairly new living back in Charleston, but I think Leon’s frozen beverages are my current favorite. Both the Frosé and frozen Gin & Tonic remind me of my mom: They’re short but could beat ya to hell.

    I also have to shout out Moe’s Crosstown – they always have something good on rotation. Rutledge Cab Co. deserves recognition for their wonderful desert style alcoholic frozen beverages.

    Special Shoutout- Although it’s not Charleston, I have to mention Pool Bar Jim’s in Hilton Head as the absolute best frozen beverage I’ve had in South Carolina. I’m hesitant to mention this beautiful beach bar at the risk of letting the secret out. But they cut fresh fruit at the bar and throw it right in the blender, all right in front you. It’s like a raw bar for frozen beverages. During happy hour, they have a wonderful two-for-one deal that you just won’t find anywhere on the Eastern seaboard.

    Frozen beverage by @moescrosstowntavern.

    Chris Gardner 

    Public Figure at Extra Chill

    Photo courtesy of Chris Gardner.

    How did you become a frozen drink connoisseur? 

    I became a frozen drink connoisseur by being curious and having a sweet tooth. Most frozen drinks are sweet and I feel like I’m not only having an alcoholic beverage but a dessert as well.

    What is your number one favorite frozen beverage in Charleston, and why? 

    The Frozen Tiramisu Harold’s Cabin, which features Faretti Biscotti, rum blend (kraken dark rum etc), espresso, mascapone cream (mascapone cheese, fold in whip cream, and cognac), and cinnamon cold brew, garnished with a lady finger cookie. It’s a Michelin Star Level Boozy Frappuccino.. layered perfectly like the namesake dessert.. almost too pretty to drink.

    When it comes to frozen drinks, what separates the best from the rest? 

    A few different factors. First and foremost is the thought and effort put into the concept and execution. The environment and situation in which you enjoy the drink. A frozen marg outside on a hot summer day just hits different.. just like his frozen tiramisu would be best enjoyed at night after dinner.

    Harold’s Cabin frozen tiramisu courtesy of Chris Gardner.

    Conclusion

    The lovely thing about living in a place as warm (sticky, steamy, sweltering) as Charleston is that, even as the technical “summer” season winds to a close, frozen beverage season doesn’t have to end soon. Go out and explore all that our scene has to offer in frozen drinks, and please, as always, report back to us on what you find. 

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