As we roll into the thick of summer, blue skies and high temps make for loads of fun (and a few sun burns), but without an icy drink to balance it out, the summer can go from sweet to sweltering awfully quick. To keep your sunny months cool, we’ve picked out some of the best cold drinks in Seattle, both of the alcoholic and non-alcoholic variety.
Best boozy milkshake
Coleman Caramel – Heyday
More and more places are offering boozy milkshakes lately—the combination of childhood treat and grown-up buzz is irresistible—but our top pick is at this Mount Baker stop. The Coleman Caramel features Evan Williams bourbon, walnut liqueur, vanilla ice cream and a generous swirl of salted caramel sauce. It’s rich and thick, but not so much that you can’t sip it through a straw. – A.R.
Best non-alcoholic milkshake
Chocolate milkshake – Li’l Woody’s
There’s perhaps no greater combo than sweet, creamy milkshake and hot, salty fries—a fact that this local burger chain has capitalized on by offering a small, dippable portion of shake alongside their thin-cut fries. We say go big—get a full-size shake, made with Full Tilt ice cream (chocolate reigns supreme here), and a heap of hot fries. As enjoyable for grown-ups as it is for kids. – C.L.
Best coffee cocktail
Black Hole Sun – Heartwood Provisions
Tuck into this downtown charmer when you need a break from the heat bouncing off busy streets and set yourself up with one of the best coffee cocktails around. Boasting lush Plantation dark rum, coffee, allspice liqueur and pineapple (all topped with three coffee beans, Italian mosche-style), it may be one of the more creative coffee drinks you’ll find, and also one of the more flavorful. – A.R.
Best iced coffee
Iced ube latte – Hood Famous Café and Bar
For a non-alcoholic, sweet (but not too sweet) afternoon pick-me-up, try the iced ube latte at this charming Chinatown-International District café made famous for their creative cheesecakes. It’s layers of perfection in the glass: a light purple milk made with house-made ube syrup, with an espresso float on top. – C.L.
Best iced tea cocktail
Rotating Iced Tea Cocktail – Cursed Oak
I don’t know why more bars don’t follow the lead of this Belltown destination and make more tea drinks—the possibilities are so vast. Here, they have different iced-tea variations through summer. A recent one used their house herbal tea blend (sage, mint, cardamom, secret herbs and spices from chef Simon Pantet) mixed with newly rereleased Tanqueray Malacca gin, peppercorn, rose, clove combo, Giffard’s Pamplemousse liqueur and lemon juice. End result: a spice, citrus, herby sunshine smash. – A.R.
Best bubble tea
Milk Tea – Drive-Thru Boba
This Bellevue hotspot with limited hours hasn’t been a drive-thru in years, but the name stuck, and folks still line up for the high-quality teas, sweetened with organic simple syrup to your preference. I like the standard milk tea, sweetened to about 50 percent so you can still taste the bitter nature of the tea some, with boba (tapioca pearls) and caramel pudding chunks added. It’s a dessert and refreshing beverage all in one. – C.L.
Best boozy slushie
Paloma Slushie – Union Saloon
We live in an unparalleled age for good adult slushies—kso much so that we had a hard time narrowing this down to one choice. The icy, grapefruit-tangy, tequila-kicked Paloma at this neighborhood haunt in Wallingford is a delicious sun-defeater, but currently only on the menu Tuesdays (on Sundays, they have Ramos and Mimosa slushies). If you need a reliable everyday pick, head to Navy Strength in Belltown for the tiki-esque Saturn Slushie. – A.R.
Best kid-friendly slushie
Rotating slushie – Miri’s at Golden Gardens
Flavors may change, but expect fruity deliciousness from the double slushie machines at this charming concession stand—so robust are their offerings that it’s regularly confused with a restaurant—steps from the Golden Gardens sand. It’s frowned upon to bring alcohol to public beaches, but let’s just say we probably aren’t the first to bring a little airline-size bottle of booze to top it off. – C.L.
Best ginger beer – with or without booze
Rachel’s Ginger Beer
Everyone has their flavor of choice (mine’s a combo of the spicy pineapple and regular), but there’s no argument that Rachel’s Ginger Beer is the top spot for the elixir. Get yours to go in a cup full of ice, have it in a Moscow Mule, or ask for it topped with a swirl of cool soft serve for the ultimate float. It’s family-friendly deliciousness. – C.L.
Strawberry Aperol Spritz – Joli
It feels one of our summertime picks should be a shout out to the Aperol Spritz, which is driving the onrushing spritz train (New York Times article declaring its uncoolness bedamned). Aperol, if you don’t know, is a citrus-y Italian aperitif with a smidge of bitter—remember the bleak days before March 2006 when it wasn’t available in the United States? Pre-bottled but best over ice, this spritz features strawberry hints circling lightly without becoming overly sweet. Sip it while sitting near this upper Ballard bar’s big windows, and you’ll start singing, summertime, and the living is easy… - A.R.