Cool drinks for a hot place: Seven liquid concoctions to take the sting out of this Austin, Texas, summer
A born-and-bred Bostonian, I recently moved from Boston to Austin after a two-year graduate program at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. After finishing the program in May, I packed my little black sedan with everything it could hold and drove on down to this lovely, lively city in Central Texas. (I seem to have lost my Boston accent somewhere along the way.)
"You'll be fine," my North Carolina friends reassured me before the move. "It's a dry heat. It won't be humid in Austin like it is here."
I don't think they could imagine the never-ending string of 100-degree days that awaited me. I suppose they were right; it isn't very humid here. But heat is heat, and man, does it make me thirsty. So as part of my efforts to adjust to the most scorching hot summer I've ever experienced (I'm from the Northeast, remember?), I've been searching for the perfect cold drink to satisfy my newly ever-present thirst. Some of these might help some of you native Texans quench yours, too (you're welcome!). Here are seven cold drinks I've "researched" (cough: gulped and slurped) over the past few weeks.
- Michelle Cerulli
Casa Brasil at Sunset Valley Farmers' Market
Cappuccello ($3, one size)
This light, crisp citrus-y coffee creation is not your typical cup of Joe. The invention of mixologist and Tipsy Texan David Alan, cappuccello is made from mixing and shaking cold-brewed coffee concentrate with lemon agave nectar and lemon juice. The result is a refreshing, thin-textured coffee-colored lemonade with a frothy top and understated sweetness. The citrus hits you as soon as you put nose to cup. It's not an iced drink that provides a caffeine jolt or a distinct coffee flavor, but that's part of what makes cappuccello stand out: its lemon appeal. 3200 Jones Road. (Burger Center's parking lot) 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, www.casabrasilcoffees.com .
Lulu B's Sandwiches
Vietnamese iced coffee ($3, one size, cash only)
Made from stirring sweetened condensed milk with ice and coffee, this camel-colored iced drink is nothing if not decadent. The coffee's consistency resembles a mudslide minus the Kahlúa. Its rich, full-bodied flavor is overwhelmingly sweet, making this iced coffee better suited to an afternoon dessert break than a morning coffee run. Though heavy and not particularly refreshing, the drink satisfies a sweet tooth, or several if you can finish the whole thing. I couldn't. 2113 S. Lamar Blvd. (near Oltorf Street, food trailer is set back from the road next to Office Depot) 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, www.myspace.com/lulubssandwiches .
Frozen Mexican Hot Chocolate ($5, one size)
Expect a spicy kick with each energizing slurp of this frosty drink. Nestled in the corner of the South Austin Trailer Park & Eatery, Holy Cacao melds sugar and spice to create the brain-freezing chocolate explosion known as frozen Mexican hot chocolate. The signature drink is made from blending Blue Bell chocolate ice cream and crushed ice with ancho chile- and cinnamon-infused dark chocolate. It's every bit as rich as it sounds, smooth in texture and the color of sand. Whipped cream is optional. The dessert trailer, perhaps most famous for its cake balls, provides an extra-wide straw to accommodate the drink's milkshake-like thickness. Try a cake ball to top off the sweetness. Mine was mashed-up peanut butter cookie, chunky peanut butter and chocolate, sprinkled with crushed peanuts. 1311 S. First St. (Parking available in lot) noon to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 12 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, www.theholycacao.com .
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
Dark Chocolate Ice Blended Coffee Drink ($4.06, 12 ounces)
I had every intention of trying the mocha ice blended coffee when I stepped inside the South Lamar location of the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, but a helpful, serious barista steered me in the direction of dark chocolate, proclaiming it as his favorite. The coffee and tea chain makes its signature iced drink by blending coffee, skim milk and ice with dark chocolate powder. While the cold drink doesn't stand out, the chocolate flavor tasted rich for a powder, and its slushy consistency made the drink a refreshing option for another afternoon scorcher. I couldn't make out any hints of coffee. The icy texture makes the last few slurps tricky to get with a straw, so I recommend using a spoon or sipping straight from the cup. Five Austin locations. Check website and call preferred location for hours, www.coffeebean.com .
Coco Love ($5.40, one size)
This house special blends the juice of a fresh coconut with a banana and is festively served in a coconut shell. (You can ask for a cup if you're not feeling particularly tropical.) The result is a cool, creamy delight with just the right amount of sweetness. Frothy bubbles float at the top of the drink, which is slightly thick from the banana's addition. Smooth and light, Coco Love provided a brief respite from the heat and a departure from the ordinary. A friendly employee at the Daily Juice's original location (1625 Barton Springs Road) suggested adding cinnamon next time for a different, warmer effect. Original location is open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily during the summer. Other locations are 4500 Duval St. and 2307 Lake Austin Blvd., www.dailyjuice.org .
The Tea Lounge
Coconut Black Tea with Cream ($3.52, one size)
Originating in Taiwan, bubble or boba tea is typically a blend of green or black tea; milk or nondairy creamer; puréed fruit, flavored powder or syrup; sugar or sugar substitute; and tapioca balls, served cold. The Tea Lounge, a hip, roomy shop in North Austin, offers a wide selection of bubble tea flavors, including almond, passion fruit, lychee and mango. Its refreshing coconut black tea with cream combines black tea, coconut powder, sugar, ice and non-dairy creamer, which the Tea Lounge folks say makes its tea creamier and smoother than milk. (If you prefer milk, they'll substitute in whatever kind you like.) Resting at the bottom of my cream tea were mini tapioca balls or "boba," chewy balls of starch made with caramel and dark brown sugar. The boba makes the drink more interesting, though you can go without if you like. The top of the 20-ounce cup is sealed with taut plastic cellophane stamped on by a machine so that the tea can be shaken, spill-free. You then pierce the cellophane with a straw wide enough to accommodate large or small boba. Most tea concoctions on the menu can be served hot or cold. Smooth and sweet, the coconut cream tea was a satisfying sugary splurge for a lazy Saturday late morning. 1700 W. Parmer Lane, Suite 210. Open 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, www.tealoungetx.com .
Tarka Indian Kitchen
Mango Lassi ($3.52, one size)
What first draws you in is the orange-y yellow brightness of this Indian drink, which is made from yogurt whipped with fresh pureed mango. The result is an upliftingly sweet and creamy treat that you can't quite slurp down quickly enough. The mango in Tarka's lassi can be replaced with pineapple, mixed berries or guava if mango isn't your favorite. I ordered the cool summery drink from Tarka's takeout kitchen and waited fewer than five minutes for it. When I popped off the cover for a closer look at the sunshine-hued concoction, I spotted a chunk of mango, which must have escaped the puree machine. 5207 Brodie Lane and 201 University Blvd., Round Rock. Open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, www.tarkaindiankitchen.com .