DISCLAIMER: I'm going to use the word "blendy" below. A lot. Because I think it's fun. I got in a relationship-ending fight with a friend of 10 years while researching this article. It wasn't about whose hurricane was best or margaritas iced vs. blended, but about that word: "blendy." (Just look how fun it is!)
It's a word that recalls the slushies, sno cones, freezies, and Juliuses of our collective American childhood—it's not a serious word, even if cocktails are serious business. And why should it be? This friend of mine Instagrams literally every drink he has, with puns in the hashtags. He never says the word "stomach," opting always for "tummy." Yet to him "blendy" is blasphemy.
- Hale Pele
The blendy itself has a bad rap, somehow. It's a too-sweet Tiki joke, a holdover from the days when a blender was a suburban status symbol; it infantilizes drinkers; and it often comes from a machine popularized by 7-Eleven. But Tiki's making a comeback nationwide, and in Portland that means you can head to Hale Pele (reigning champion of that age-old Tiki paradox, the cocktail that's both on ice and on fire) and drop $12—the price of a serious cocktail—on a Hurricane (2733 NE Broadway, halepele.com).
That Hurricane zips together Coruba Jamaican rum and Hale Pele's house BG Reynolds passion fruit syrup with a bright, tart line of lemon juice, doing the New Orleans classic right. But among the big (read: head-sized) blendies at Hale Pele there hides an underrated Tiki classic: The Missionary's Downfall ($9). This little beauty is deeply green with fresh mint, hiding the peach liqueur, pineapple, and a rum as delicate as the flower that garnishes it.
Meanwhile, even outside the Tiki community there's love for the blendy. In an informal poll of bartenders at bars tragically lacking blenders, the obvious favorite is Rum Club, an inner-SE hotspot that's basically a Tiki bar in black denim cutoffs and covered with tattoos (720 SE Sandy, rumclubpdx.com). Alex Davis, Nostrana bartender and blatant blendy fetishist, is known to wax poetic on the Rum Club's blended peach daiquiri, while Lauren Scott of Angel Face is partial to their piña colada. Even when there isn't something swirling in the slushy machine, the Rum Club crew coax a perfect, lasting consistency out of their Vita-Mix every time.
Look, I'll be honest: I kind of hate the word "blendy" already too, and we're only about 400 words in. Let's take a break and talk about popsicles: New kid on the block Bit House Saloon has taken over the old East Bank Saloon space (and done it up right, from the gas-fired back patio to the flirtatiously intimate seating in the glassed-over alleyway adjacent) and among draft cocktails, single-barrel spirits, and, yes, a mating pair of slushy machines, BHS is busting out alcoholic otter pops (what do you call those—freezies?) they call Glacier Pops (707 SE Grand, bithousesaloon.com). Doled out randomly at $5 a pop, this is probably the single most childish way you can put alcohol into your body until there's a Mike's Hard Go-Gurt.
Now back to the blender, only let's head south of the border. If you are under the impression that you prefer your margaritas on the rocks, stop reading this and go to Bunk Bar for a pitcher of blended margaritas ($39, multiple locations, bunksandwiches.com). Or better yet, grab an Iceberg: a pint of Rainier with a floating mass of frozen margarita in it ($6). Upsettingly, this is somehow not the most popular drink in America.
- Watermelon Paloma
- The Knock Back photobooth
And the margarita isn't the only classic tequila drink that fits in a blender: Mercury food critic and all-around connoisseur of finer things Andrea Damewood, preying on my weakness for pink drinks, recommends NE Alberta's the Knock Back for a blended—go get a hanky because this is the most mouthwatering one-two punch of words ever typed—Watermelon Paloma (2315 NE Alberta, theknockback.com). The Paloma is already pure summer: tequila, grapefruit soda, a little lime. Adding watermelon to the mixture is one of those head-slappingly obvious moves you still never saw coming.
The options are endless and don't stop at rum and tequila (see: Produce Row's Bulleit Rye and yuzu slushy with black tea, $9, 204 SE Oak, producerowcafe.com), so, possible moratorium on the "blendy" nomenclature notwithstanding, on these hot and humid days, there's no excuse not to suck down some frozen booze as long as this sun keeps shining.