Refreshing Drinks for Warm Summer Days

We have the gear you need to chill out.

How can you stay cool during the remaining warm weeks of summer? One way I beat the heat is by carrying a cold drink with me, whether I’m in our house working, in the backyard reading, or on a neighborhood walk with our pup. I drink from the test kitchen’s favorite glass water bottle while I sit at my desk; it holds a lot of water—22 ounces—so I stay hydrated and don’t have to refill it too often. Plus, it has a wide mouth that makes it simple to fill and clean. And when dinner rolls around, I look to no-cook recipes. Some of my favorites, like Brussels Sprout Salad, are included in The Complete Cook’s Country TV Show Cookbook. With over 400 foolproof recipes in this collection, you’ll be sure to find perfect ones for the rest of summer and more to carry your family right into the fall. —Carolyn Grillo, Associate Editor, ATK Reviews

This ultradurable cooler outpaced every other model in cooling and durability, but it’s a bit heavy for the average person. Ice lasted a whole week, and when we placed sodas and ice packs inside, the cooler kept our beverages below 50 degrees for more than five days. We also loved its rubber latches, which were easy to close, and its durable rope handles. The cooler’s weight did make it fairly difficult for one person to carry when full, and it didn’t fit all our groceries or soda cans (it could fit only 24 cans, along with ice packs). However, if you’re looking for a smaller cooler that holds all the essentials, this is an excellent option.

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Though this hard-sided ice pack was one of the more expensive in the bunch, it contained a large amount of liquid, had a convenient handle for easy transporting, and never formed bulges as it froze. We needed only one of these packs to line a cooler and keep soda chilled for more than a day, and the pack stayed cold for almost 14 hours when we let it sit out at room temperature.

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This countertop model is both the simplest to use and the sleekest. Applying light pressure to the carbonating block allowed testers to choose between gentle carbonation and intensely effervescent bubbles. CO2 canisters are long lasting and convenient to exchange in dozens of retail stores (including Crate & Barrel, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Sur la Table) for half of the retail price.

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With a hard plastic frame and lid enclosing a silicone ice cube tray, this model was easy to transport to the freezer without spilling and made excellent ice cubes that were clean and straight-edged. The frame and lid also helped reduce freezer and coffee odors; while the silicone tray did smell slightly after a week, the problem was less pronounced than in several other models. Relatively compact, it’ll fit in most freezers.  More on this test

Our favorite blender capably turned out smooth margaritas and smoothies and creamy salad dressing. Like those of the other models in our lineup, its narrow cup opening was difficult to fill, but we appreciated that it came with a small silicone funnel to help. We also liked that this blender was easy to turn on and off with one click of a button. It withstood being placed in a duffel bag and dropped five times onto concrete. It did begin to leak on the 45th smoothie, but that was a lot to ask of a machine likely intended for simpler tasks, such as making one smoothie a day or a few batches of frozen drinks at the beach.

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Our winner had the widest mouth in the lineup, which made it simple to fill—no spills or drips. The screw-on lid had a wide, arched handle that was easy to grip and turn, though users occasionally took an extra few seconds to get the lid on track. We liked that this model was dishwasher-safe and had no extra parts to remove during cleaning, and it survived three indoor drops despite its 2½-pound (filled) weight. It's also available in a 16-ounce size, if you prefer a lighter load.

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These silicone bottle caps fit the tops of 12-ounce glass beer and soda bottles. Tough but slightly stretchy, they come in packs of six, 12, or 54. (If you lose the top of a plastic bottle of seltzer or soda, they’ll fit that, too.) Testing was fun: We downed half of a beer, capped the rest, and set it in the refrigerator. The beer was still effervescent the next evening. But don’t wait too long: After 48 hours, the cap blew off one bottle and another beer was left a bit flat.

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This quiet, high-powered blender has simple, intuitive controls. As for its blending capability, it was top-notch. It was able to produce fine-textured foods without incorporating excess air, thanks to its narrow blender jar. The tamper accessory was helpful when blending thicker foods, and the blender’s 7-year warranty insured our investment. It’s tall, at 20.25 inches, so it can’t be stored on a counter beneath a standard 18-inch-tall cabinet, and its narrow jar made scraping out its contents a minor challenge.

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This new blender from Breville improves upon its predecessor in a few key ways. It’s more powerful, so it can get smoothies and almond butter even smoother, and it has a dedicated “green smoothie” button that completely blends fibrous ingredients into a silky smooth drink. It’s reasonably quiet and reasonably compact, and combined its ingredients efficiently with minimal pauses to scrape down the sides. Like the previous model, it still automatically stops every 60 seconds, which can be a little annoying during longer blends, but this wasn’t that big of an issue. Its timer makes tracking recipe stages very easy.

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This surprisingly quiet centrifugal juicer whipped through fruits and vegetables with ease on high and low speeds, and its 3-inch-wide feed chute accommodated large apple quarters or multiple carrots at a time. It was easy to assemble and its smooth surfaces (with fewer nooks and crannies than other models) proved easy to clean. Its stiff cleaning brush made a clean sweep of pulpy bits in the fine-mesh strainer basket. All parts except the food pusher are top-rack dishwasher-safe.

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This roomy infuser held nearly double the amount of fruit of any other product, giving plain water the robust, bright flavor of whatever we put in. We liked that its oblong, clear plastic pitcher was large enough to hold drinks for a crowd but slim enough to fit in the refrigerator door. The model’s smart design comes with three interchangeable attachments: for infusing fruit, brewing tea, and keeping beverages cold.

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