Lower Hutt’s Cool As Drinks Challenge
Real talk: you never know what you’re going to get with a Wellington summer. But one thing’s certain, you can count on the temperature in the Hutt being at least a solid five degrees higher than it is in the Welly CBD. (Don’t get offended, Wellington - just accept the reality.)
Which is why every year, Lower Hutt hosts the Cool As, Summer Refresher Challenge - a cold drink challenge, where cafes and restaurants create cool as bevvies - from shakes, juices, slushies and fizzies - to keep locals and visitors refreshed and quenched.
This year’s Cool As fest runs from 16-31 January, and there are 15 summer drops to sip your way around Lower Hutt. Having run for five years, Cool As was created off the back of Sweet As (the winter iteration with a focus on hot chocolate instead of cold refreshments).
Cyndi Christensen from the Hutt City Council said the festival had really captured the appetites of locals, especially families with kids and groups of friends, looking to catch up over the summer.
“People go out to enjoy Cool As in groups and it becomes a real social outing - they try drinks at different cafes, and cast votes for their favourite beverages. Every year there is greater participation and more people getting out there among our cafes and restaurants,” says Cyndi.
“There’s also been huge pick up in creativity with the drinks - cafes have really been pushing themselves to come up with visual drinks, garnishes and exciting flavours. Everyone has really stepped up and it's an indication of how creative they’ll also be for the upcoming hot chocolate challenge in the winter.
“It’s really fantastic to see Lower Hutt’s eateries full and everyone supporting the festival by posting their pics on social media and voting!”
So, pop out of the city and warm up in those precious extra few degrees in the Hutt this summer, then cool down with a Cool As drop. Here are just a few (out of the many) that caught our eye….
Candy Crusher - Atrium Cafe
Description: House-made spiced lemonade - an out-of-this world summer drink.
Flavours: Fresh lemons, cinnamon and allspice
Why you’ll want to drink it: Interactive mixology at its finest. Says Atrium: “The drink starts off as deep blue as the night sky, but changes colour as lemonade is poured over the Blue Pea Flower Ice into a deeper galaxy of purple hues.” This intergalactic beverage delivers on everything it promises visually - prepare for your tastebuds to take off.
Garnish game: Extremely high. This is a Space Oddity assortment of rainbow galaxy-inspired sweets that’ll launch you into the stratosphere.
Scoff a Banoff - Tuataki Cafe
Description: Refreshing with a crème caramel base. A fruity, banana punch, topped with a golden crunch.
Flavours: Caramel, chocolate, banana, ice cream, milk and biscuit
Why you’ll want to drink it: If you’re always tempted by a second slice of banoffee pie, this Cool As drink is your jam.
Garnish game: The stand-out garnish in this smorgasbord of garnishes is the humble, yet classic, choccie Flake. Can’t really argue with that - and why would you want to?
Crimson Thief - The Crooked Elm
Description: A dual-coloured fruit slushie that’ll freeze your brain.
Flavours: Raspberries, pineapple and lime
Why you’ll want to drink it: Some approach brain freeze as a personal challenge. If you’re a brain freeze gung-ho, this is your drop - frosty, refreshing and - if you drink it fast enough - a side of brain freeze. Plus it comes in both kid-friendly (non-alc) and big kid-friendly (cocktail) versions!
Garnish game: Look at it. It has a cherry on top, the garnish to end all garnishes! A veritable, sassy full stop on the top of your frosty, fruity concoction.
Malteser Madness - Cuffs Cafe
Description: A chocolate malted milkshake with a scoop of chocolate ice cream
topped with whipped cream and all things Maltesers.
Flavours: Chocolate, caramel and malt (much of it in Malteser form)
Why you’ll want to drink it: Remember those Malteser ads where everyone is trying to eat them in the most awkwardly, non-linear fashion they can think of (because, yes, picking up a Malteser with a straw in your mouth is far more effortless than moving millimeters from the couch and lifting it with your hand)? This drink is not that. Your delicious Maltesers experience is conveniently housed in a glass for maximum ease of consumption! (And you’ll want to easily consume it.)
Garnish game: It’s Maltesers on steroids!! Maltesers, a Malteser finger, a swirl of homemade salted caramel and a Malteser slice on the side.
High Tea - Bellbird Eatery
Description provided: A refreshing and elegant sip of summer
Flavours: Rosé, raspberry vanilla rooibos tea, sweetened with a dash of honey, blackcurrant syrup (but there is a non-alc version that replaces the Rosé with sparkling water - no less pink, you’ll be happy to know!).
Why you’ll want to drink it: When was the last time you took the time to stop and smell the Rosés? Today is the day.
Garnish game: A splash of frozen berries with a pink sugar rim
Summer Love - Roadhouse Bar & Grill
Description: It comes in non-alc and cocktail iterations - the non-alc has a refreshing aftertaste of tropical fruits, and the grown-up version has a summery dash of Frangelico, Malibu and vodka.
Flavours: At the risk of sounding like a Polar Pop ad - tropically fruit-tastic: pineapple, lime and coconut.
Why you’ll want to drink it: If you like Pina Coladas, crank some Rupert Holmes, and grab one of these!
Garnish game: Wedges all around - orange and mint for the non-alc version; lemon and lime for the big kids version.
Banana-Na Du Du Dudu - Buzz Cafe
Description: A cool, refreshing iced banana concoction topped with pancakes, bacon, banana chips, cream and maple syrup.
Flavours: A brunchy-bonanza - Buzz Cafe says this is brunch in a glass!
Why you’ll want to drink it: This is a sweet/savoury party, and your taste buds are invited, which brings us to…
Garnish game: Strong. Anything garnished with bacon is winning in the garnish stakes. But this has the added bonus of a little stack of mini pikelets and slices of banana.
Grab a Cool As programme guide in any participating eatery. For more information on Cool As, check out the Cool As Facebook page.