Frappés and frozen drinks

I have questions.

The ostensibly French word “frappé” crops up in American drink recipes at least as early as the 1880s, continues to do so as late as the mid-20th Century, and even crops up again today, from time to time, often with frozen (blended) drinks. Elsewhere, it seems to be also in somewhat common use, since the 19th Century, for coffee or juice served over shaved ice. Concurrently, “frappe” (no accent) is a longstanding New Englander (pharmacy?) term for an ice cream milkshake. Frappé, in French, canonically means hit/stricken, but also can mean iced/chilled.


A few examples from the bar:

  • The earliest Frappé drink I have handy is the Vermouth Frappé, from OH Byron (1884), which is a shot of vermouth over crushed ice in a glass, filled with seltzer.

  • William Schmidt (1891) made various Frappés, sometimes swizzling, sometimes just building, sometimes shaking and pouring, sometimes shaking and straining, but always with crushed ice. To him, a frappé seems to have been a drink mixed with crushed ice instead of lump or cracked ice.

  • The Cantineros in Cuba (c. 1920s) made a Daiquirí Frapé, which was a blended Daiquiri.

In Imbibe, @Splificator wrote (p. 243) about frappé as a verb: to fill a glass with shaved or finely cracked ice, and proceeded to describe Sazerac House’s technique of stirring the drink in shaved ice, then straining that into the serving vessel. Schmidt would approve.

So, first question: does this look correct:

  • frappé is a technique in opposition to the default shaking or stirring with lump or cracked ice
  • frappé results in a decisively cold drink
  • a frappé drink is either (A) well diluted by melted water from shaking/stirring with shaved/crushed ice—the remnants of which are strained before serving—or, (B) the drink is actually served with significant quantities of particulate ice in the drink, which will proceed to melt rapidly, diluting the drink and making it colder still

Second question: is everyone cool with any and all of these things potentially being categorized a frappé:

  • ANY swizzled drink, including all Swizzles
  • ANY frozen blender drink (or slushy machine drink), such as a frozen Margarita or “frose”
  • ANY drink built over crushed/shaved/pebble ice, including all Cobblers and many Juleps
  • ANY drink stirred or shaken with crushed or shaved ice before being straining or pouring into a serving glass, which includes gobs of exotic drinks

Third question: (which may be moot depending on how folks feel about the second question) are “frozen drink” and “frappé” effectively synonyms?

Fourth question: Do we honor French pronunciation frahp-EH, or treat it Bugs Bunny-style as frap-AY, or trim it New England-style as FRAP?

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I would say yes to the first two questions and would —obviously— defend the French pronunciation.

I have, however, a question of my own.

See, “frappé de glace” (“frappé” for short) is a wine term apparently in use since the late 18th century and it refers to wine bottles —mostly champagne— that have been chilled with ice before service. “Frappé’d” (it’s a verb in French too) drinks were never watered or diluted. It was the external action of the ice that brought down their temperature.

So: how and when did the word describing the action of putting wines on ice became a word for drinks that were chilled with shaved / crushed ice? (I don’t ask ‘where’ because I asumme it’s in the US.)

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I’m speculating, but at some point (depending where you were, physically) in the mid-19th Century, Americans (and others, of course) went from having ice as a seasonal byproduct of climate, to having it more or less on demand, year-round. Perhaps, during all this excitement, frappé was appropriated in as arbitrary and accidental a manner as cobbler?

In Argentinian or Uruguayan cocktail books the term frappé is mostly used for ice-cold shaken cocktails, borrowing the French expression that @francois presented, but that doesn’t necessarily imply the use of shaved ice.

The use of ice in South American mixology is still a mystery (at least as far as my research goes) because the history and evolution of commercial ice is hard to trace. Most cocktail manuals use expressions that could mean either “regular” ice cubes or shaved ice. Nonetheless, frappé can be found as an adjective or verb in many recipes that undoubtedly call for ice cubes.