Beat the Heat: Washington’s Most Refreshing Cold Treats

From bourbon slushies to malted-milk-ball ice gelato, here are our favorite ways to cool down when the temperature breaks 100.

A slushie at Estadio, a staff favorite. Photograph by Stacy Zarin-Goldberg

When it comes to staying cool, the Washingtonian staff knocks back cocktails, scarfs down frozen yogurt, and orders all drinks over ice. The following roundup is a highly subjective list of some of the best ways to beat the heat in Washington.

Cocktails at Estadio: Nearly every Washingtonian editor and writer is a fan of mixologist Adam Bernbach's concoctions at this Logan Circle Spanish-tapas joint. Some of our favorites include the bourbon slushie, gin and tonic, Moscatel-sherry float, the coconut-lime-lemongrass slushie, and a sparkling drink with tequila, Cava, rosemary, and grapefruit.

Dolcezza sorbetto: Nearly any flavor will do at these three Argentine-gelato shops (Dupont Circle, Georgetown, Bethesda), but we like to go for the most seasonal choices, or a classic standby: lemon.

Chocolate fro-yo from Pinkberry: Top it with brownie bites and chocolate chips. It tastes just like Ben & Jerry's, but you can absolutely convince yourself it's healthy because it's yogurt. 

Salted-caramel-and-praline ice cream at Comet Ping Pong: A super-salty version of a flavor that's now as ubiquitous as molten cake. If you want something for late-night snacking, look for a pint from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, the excellent Columbus, Ohio-based brand that Whole Foods is now selling.

Seasonal-fruit concrete at Shake Shack: This burger joint offers ultra-thick, Midwestern-style frozen custard, and a variety of mix-ins turns it into a "concrete." While the chocolate-mint behemoth called the Washington Monument is a sugar bomb, the vanilla custard layered with crispy crepe shards and fruit—it was vanilla-poached rhubarb when we had it—isn't nearly as cloying. 

See Also:

Best Gin Cocktails in Washington

Cool and Delicious Milkshakes

Unsweetened iced green tea from Starbucks and pluot green iced tea from Caribou Coffee: Okay, so they're chains. They still have some very refreshing iced tea. On a day like today, can you really discriminate?

Gin and tonic at Bourbon Steak: Maybe it's the house-made tonic, maybe it's the Plymouth gin. Whatever it is, this version of the classic summer cocktail is one of the best in the area.

Häagen-Dazs zesty lemon sorbet: It tastes like lemonade—but colder.

Malted-milk-ball gelato from Ciao Bella: A creamy base with crunchy mini milk balls. 

Potbelly's ice-cream sandwich: Two salad-plate-size cookies with a layer of ice cream squished between them is enough for its own meal.

Rita's Mango Water Ice: Forget ice cream—nothing says summertime like that first bite of mango water ice from Rita's. It's refreshingly cold, delicious, and tropical all in one.

Grape Fla•Vor•Ice: For all of you ice-chewers out there, nothing is as cold and refreshing as one of these old-school freeze pops.

The St. Germain "poptail" from Cafe Saint-Ex: An adult ice pop with elderflower liqueur, white wine, and lemon simple syrup. You can squeeze it into a glass, but it's best slurped straight from the packet.

Jaleo gazpacho: The chilled Spanish soup with a spritz of sherry vinegar is a reliably refreshing classic.

Toasted-marshmallow milkshake at Good Stuff Eatery: One of the best reasons to visit Spike Mendelsohn's Capitol Hill burger joint. (@bestbitesblog followers @jordynlazar and @22pearls love Good Stuff shakes, too.)

Chocolate ice cream at HomeMade Pizza Co.: We're not really sure why, but the classic flavor is just really, really good at this chain of takeaway-pizza shops.

Trader Joe's sparkling clementine soda: More delicious—and cheaper—than those Izze drinks. It's sweet and light without being too sugary. 

Zuppa Inglese at Fiola: Looking at Fiola's bomboloni-laden dessert menu, we were tempted to write this one off as the obligatory dieter's concession. But the mini trifle layered with lemon granita was one of the best parts of the entire meal. 

Coffee shake at Ba Bay: This amped-up version of Vietnamese coffee mixes chicory-infused coffee with house-made condensed-milk ice cream. 

Just about anything from Pleasant Pops: This food truck doles out creative takes on Popsicles—and lots of ingredients are local.

Granita cocktails at Casa Nonna: Sure, this Italian restaurant turns out a good meatball sub, but on days like today, we're reaching for the icy, boozy stuff.

When we put a call out on Twitter, our readers responded with these suggestions:

• A smoothie from Robek's "always does the trick for me," says @travisjmitchell.

Jaleo classic sangria and Dairy Godmother frozen custard, says @amandaspets.

Ted's Bulletin's boozy milkshakes, says @FORKITDC. (We have recipes for three of them!)

Dolcezza blueberry-thyme and dark-chocolate gelatos, says @danipram.

• The Orange Cow truck is "the best panacea for all #heatwave ills. Antidotes should always be this cold + creamy," says @msharmy.

• An ice-cold Shiner Beer with barbecue, suggests @technogator.

Frozen yogurt with fruit, because "you don't feel 'ugh' after," says @meganpratz.

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