Athens is a foodie’s mecca with dozens of restaurants and shops eating up the locavore movement almost as much as visitors and students do. With our wide variety of food choices comes an equally large list of specialty drinks and smoothies perfect for cooling down and relaxing during the waning days of summer.
With all the adventuring at destinations like Strouds Run, The Ridges and surrounding establishments , you’re bound to empty your water bottles with your thirst still unquenched. Luckily though, there’s a great collection of coffee shops and cafes dotted across town, meaning you never have to travel very far to escape the heat while refueling your body for the next exhibition into the hills.
Whether you’ve worked up a sweat or are just looking for an escape, these seven drinks are meant to relax, reenergize and remind you to take it easy, summer is calling!
This little gem made with big flavor is found at The Ridges Cafe, tucked away in a windowed side room within the Kennedy Arts Museum. The space presents enough natural light to radiate the feeling of sitting in one of the many courtyards spread throughout the sprawling vine-laden compound. Their coffee is always well-made and in the case of this ice-coffee, also very smooth. The fresh apple and cinnamon spice flavoring reminds you that fall is hiding around the corner. The flavors are blended well and you won’t find any overpowering tastes. Only $2 for a cup, the price is a rare find on or off campus. The cafe provides visitors a chance to refuel before they begin their exploration of The Ridges or cool-off and relax after a long hike through the wooded hills that surround the property. (9/21/15 Update: The Ridges Cafe has now closed)
Catalyst Cafe (found at 540 West Union) owns the recipe for one of the few delicious and locally sourced smoothies in town. The fruit smoothie is made using fresh, never frozen blackberries and bananas and blended with Snowville Creamery milk and yogurt. The blended concoction comes out thick, but smooth- meaning you won’t have to worry about digging through the bottom of your glass with a spoon. There’s no time to feel bad about eating something this good, it’s made with all natural ingredients and Catalyst uses extra-wide 100% recycled straws to make slurping easier and nature a bit greener. Catalyst also provides pleasant views of the Hocking River and White’s Mill sitting quietly off of route 682. The cafes a mere one hundred yards from the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway and provides bikers and walkers alike an enjoyable spot to sit, rest up and relax with friends.
Who says sodas can’t take the edge off? This light and surprisingly refreshing combination of lemons, lime and home made ginger soda, is home to the West End Cider House. The speakeasy-style bar is neatly tucked away behind the hills inhabited by college students. For only $3, you’re provided a cozy atmosphere, strangers that become friends and a sweetly eye-opening ginger soda. It’s a great escape from campus and is across the street (at 234 West Washington), only a few mere steps from West Side Wingery, in case you’re feeling hungry after a couple of cocktails.. or sodas. The interior of the bar screams 1920’s and pulls you back into an era before prohibition threatened establishments similar to the Cider House. Good times come easy and often alongside thirst quenching drinks served at the West End Ciderhouse.
There are few better ways to start your morning off other than a brief stop into Donkey Cafe (located at 17 1/2 West Washington) for an iced coffee or piping hot latte. The dependable care and consistent attention to detail placed in creating drinks reflects on a reliable sense of comfort, that’s difficult to find elsewhere. If you choose to prolong your stay at Donkey, which is popular and all too common, you’ll have a surprising variety of seating available. The cafe is stocked with plush sofas and lounging chairs alongside your regular tables and chairs that make an excellent, quiet place to study or chat. The pours are always hot, giving off the aroma and support to their freshly ground coffee; true to its name.
Traveling far isn’t necessary to find this refreshing tropical smoothie from Ginger Asian Kitchen, conveniently located in Uptown Athens at 28 South Court Street. The restaurant is a no-brainer when it comes to favored asian cuisine, but many times goes unnoticed when thinking of fresh fruit smoothies. The fruit is cut on the spot and depends on what’s ordered . The strong flavors and texture of the fruit is evident, but not overpowering in their smoothies. The blended ice gives the smoothie a refreshing taste that’s perfect for walks during summer. Next time you’re strolling through Uptown Athens and looking for something sweet, give Ginger’s fresh fruit smoothies a thought as they’re an excellent summer sweet treat. If fruit smoothies aren’t your thing, head across the street to Whit’s Frozen Custard to try sweetness of another variety.
While this sweet and sultry treat is a tough find outside of summer months, it remains a favorite among those that frequent Casa Nueva (located at 4 West State). Made with fresh local peaches, blended with Sauza Silver Tequila, agave nectar and lime juice, this drink is guaranteed to cool you off and temper you down during the heat and humidity that is all too common in Southeast Ohio. Whether peaches are in season or not, Casa Nueva hosts a variety of specialty drinks and any flavor of margarita is just as good as this seasonal classic. Be on the lookout for other flavors as the seasons change and different fruits become more readily available. They’ve got a great stage for live bands and acts that they lovingly abuse with an assortment of artists that span the genres of music. If you stop in for a drink, you’re likely to stay for the lively atmosphere and colorful paintings that hang from the walls.
Feel like taking a little road trip? It’s not a far drive up Route 33, but Fullbrook’s Cafe is found at Nelsonville’s Historic Public Square, fitting the cafe on the corner block. Fullbrook’s is a locally owned and maintained cafe that makes every effort to source their fruits and veggies from the farms in the region. Their mixed berry smoothie possesses a flavorful bomb of raspberries, blackberries and blueberries that’s sure to set your taste buds off. The cafe offers a quiet atmosphere with the type of mood and vibrance that lulls you into the coffee-shop feel. Visit Fullbrook’s at 6 Public Square in Nelsonville to get your fill!