NEW YORK CITY — When it comes to beating the heat on a sweltering day, a frozen margarita may seem like an oasis — but non-alcoholic drinks often do a better job of cooling you down and keeping you hydrated.
Whether it's iced tea, freshly squeezed juice or an artisanal slushy, there are plenty of cool beverages you can down at New York City's cafes when the temperature rises — without all the boozy side effects.
"When you're thirsty, an alcoholic drink isn't the best idea, because it dehydrates you," said Katie McCarthy, owner of Staten Island's Everything Goes Book Cafe, which offers iced tea concoctions to overheated patrons. "Instead, herbal teas have health-inducing compounds and help you feel good."
In Flatiron, Kelvin Natural Slush Co.'s slushy truck offers a refreshing combination of ice and fruit purees to keep body temperatures down.
“Being a water-based product, it is much lighter and more refreshing than a smoothie, milkshake or blended coffee drink, which are usually dairy,” said Alex Rein, co-owner of Kelvin.
DNAinfo New York rounded up the best ice-cold non-alcoholic drinks across the five boroughs:
Slushy on Wheels
Kelvin Natural Slush Co., truck parks at locations including 20th Street and Fifth Avenue, Flatiron
With 7-Eleven stores cropping up all over the city, a Slurpee craving isn’t hard to satisfy — but those who want a more natural fix can check out the Kelvin Natural Slush Co.'s truck, which often parks in Flatiron.
“Our slushies are unique in that they are an all-natural, more grown-up take on the typical convenience store slush that comes in crazy artificial flavors and colors,” said Alex Rein, co-owner of Kelvin.
Customers at Kelvin begin by choosing one of three slush bases: ginger, tea and citrus. Then, they can choose a fruit puree to mix in, including raspberry, pink guava, caramelized pineapple, mint and basil, among others.
Kelvin’s “Arnold Palmer” slushy, one of the truck’s most popular flavors, is made from half citrus slush and half tea slush, with a mix-in of white peach puree.
The slushies are kept below 32 degrees and are sweetened with pure cane sugar, Rein said.
Prices are $3.50 for a small, $4 for a medium and $4.50 for a large, which includes one fruit puree mix-in.
Kelvin’s slushy truck usually parks at 20th Street and Fifth Avenue during the day and near Union Square at night.
Iced Tea Floats
Harney & Son's Fine Teas, 433 Broome St., SoHo
At Harney & Son’s Fine Teas, iced tea and tea-infused ice cream make a refreshing combination during the summer, the owners said.
In addition to an assortment of regular iced tea flavors poured over ice, Harney & Son's also offers iced tea floats during the hottest months.
For the floats, carbonation is added to some of the iced tea flavors, which are combined with tea-flavored ice cream. The most popular float combo is the "Hot Cinnamon" soda with chai ice cream, said Emeric Harney, an owner of Harney & Son’s.
For regular iced tea, customers flock to Blood Orange and Royal Wedding, Harney said.
The cafe brews three to four varieties of iced tea each day.
Price for iced teas range from $3 to $4 depending on the type, and floats are priced at $5.50.
“Iced teas are super refreshing and have tons of varieties of flavors,” Harney said. “It’s also calorie-free.”
Coffee Over Frozen Coffee
One Girl Cookies, 68 Dean St., Cobble Hill, and 33 Main St., DUMBO
No matter how hot the day, this iced coffee won’t water down. That’s because One Girl Cookies uses frozen coffee ice cubes instead of regular ice to keep its drinks cool.
During the summer, One Girl Cookies offers its Stumptown coffee cold over ice made from decaf coffee. Iced lattes and iced mochas are also available.
During the summer months, the bakery also adds its Sicilian Float to the drink menu. The float is made from lightly sweetened peach iced tea poured over a scoop of Il Laboratorio del Gelato’s lemon sorbet.
“The drink is based on the treat that our owner’s relatives in Sicily enjoy during the hot summer months,” said Rebeca Lovett, operations manager at One Girl Cookies.
Iced coffees are priced at $3.25 each, and the float costs $4.25.
Berry Cool Smoothies
Go Green Cuisine, 737 Lydig Ave., Pelham Parkway
Go Green Cuisine, a restaurant in Pelham Gardens serving light, healthy cuisine with vegan options, offers a long list of cold drink choices, including fresh-squeezed juice blends and smoothies.
The acai berry smoothie, which also contains strawberries, blueberries and bananas, is the most popular during the summer, a manager of the restaurant said.
“It’s good for the summer because they’re cold, and they’re high in antioxidants and vitamins,” the manager said.
When it comes to juices, the Green Machine juice blend, which includes ginger, apple, spinach and cucumber, is a favorite among customers during the hot season.
The price for smoothies is $5, while juices are $3.50.
Ama Soya, 136-37 Roosevelt Ave., Flushing
If you’re a fan of soy milk, this is heaven.
All drinks, and many of the desserts, at Ama Soya, a tiny restaurant in Flushing, Queens, are based on heart-healthy soy products, such as soy milk and tofu.
The smoothies, for instance, are made of a blend of chilled soy milk and a choice of ingredients including red bean, aloe and peanuts.
In addition, Ama offers frozen soy milkshakes, made with soy milk and a choice of fruit including papaya, kiwi and pineapple.
Those looking for a more filling dessert can try Ama Soya’s popular tofu pudding or shaved ice topped with red bean, tapioca and fruits.
Prices range from $3.50 to $5.
Iced Tea with a Twist
Everything Goes Café, 208 Bay St., St. George
The iced teas at Staten Island's Everything Goes Book Café provide a refreshing pick-me-up without any added sugar, said owner Katie McCarthy.
The bookshop offers a variety of teas over ice including Marvelous Mint, made with organic peppermint tea; Basic Black, made with Chinese orange pico black tea; and Green Apple Delight, made of organic green tea and pieces of green apple.
Most of the iced teas are unsweetened and organic, McCarthy said.
“Iced teas are restorative,” she explained. “You need the fluids, but there are also other beneficial properties. Mint, for instance, helps you digest and gives you a perk up, even though it has no caffeine.”
The most popular drink on the menu is called Eve’s Elixr, which is an iced tea concoction made with apple, hibiscus, rosehips, mango and honey.
“It tastes almost like fruit juice, but not really — it’s hard to describe,” McCarthy said. “It’s very refreshing, if you’re kind of feeling droopy. Everybody loves it and we’re constantly making it.”
Price for iced teas are $1.75 for a small and $3 for a large.