Cool Drinks for Hot Summer Days

We have everything you need to make smoothies, coolers, milkshakes, and more.

I’m always looking for ways to stay cool during warm summer months. One of my favorite ways to beat the heat is by blending up fruit and vegetable smoothies or Frozen Watermelon Coolers. I have our top-rated blender at home, and it takes just a few seconds to make a refreshing drink. I also use the test kitchen’s highly rated glass water bottle almost daily—when I take a walk with our dog, a drive with my wife, or am just doing work around the house. 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. I’ll be glad to have these when the hot days of summer hit.

—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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This budget-friendly model did a decent job of cooling, keeping ice for six days—longer than any other product priced under $100.00. Its wheels made it more portable, and its roomy interior easily held a weekend's worth of groceries. We liked that the side handles were molded into the body, which prevented them from breaking when dropped. The telescoping handle you use to roll the cooler (like a luggage handle) wasn't so durable, though; one of the poles dented after we dropped the cooler, which prevented us from pushing the handle down and obstructed the lid from opening fully.

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The newer version of our former winner works just as well as the original. In a 90-degree room, this tote kept orange juice safely below 40 degrees for 2 hours. This was no surprise, given its moderate size, thick layer of insulating foam, and additional gauze-like filler designed to maintain the bag’s interior temperature. Its square, flat design and wide woven shoulder strap made it comfortable for short and tall testers alike. Though a faint yellow mustard stain remained, it showed no other signs of wear and tear.

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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.

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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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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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This water bottle struck a happy medium: kids liked that it was easy to drink from and parents liked that it was easy to clean. It had a straw-free cap that allowed water to flow freely, as well as a cap lock that prevented accidental spills. It didn’t break or leak when dropped repeatedly or inverted and shaken. It also didn’t retain any smells or odors after the green smoothie test. The kids liked its grippy silicone sleeve and carrying handle that made for easy transport and found its lid easy to remove and put back on.

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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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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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This straw set came with two 8-inch-long and two 10.5-inch-long straws. Both were very comfortable to drink from, thanks to their 3-inch-long silicone tips. Because the silicone tips were detachable, both the straws and the tips were easy to clean. The 8-inch straw fit comfortably in a glass, a to-go cup, and a travel mug and came with an effective cleaning brush that had plentiful bristles and a grippy handle. These sturdy straws did not dent when we placed a weight on them for an hour and ably punched through the lid of a plastic to-go cup. The 10.5-inch-long straw is ideal for to-go cups and tumblers larger than 16 ounces. The downside is that this set did not come with a carrying case (OXO said it plans to release a set with one later this year); however, we felt that its performance, easy cleanup, and durability outweighed this drawback.

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