Oh, man. The sun is shining! It also stays light past like 8pm now! The vernal equinox is officially behind us. And yet, it’s still freezing and kind of terrible out. So what, then, are we to do? How can we usher in sort-of-spring, almost-summer, awkward in-between time without dressing inappropriately and putting our corporeal selves at risk? By diving head-first into iced coffee, that’s how.
But iced coffee is sort of an irritating thing to make at home, and anyway, it’s fun to have a to-go container of ice to rattle around for a few hours after the actual coffee is gone. But what, exactly, makes an iced coffee worth your $2-$3? Well, simple syrup instead of regular grainy sugar, first and foremost. We’re not cretins. But there’s also ice ratio, milk ratio, strength of brew, and method of cup-sweat protection to take into consideration. It’s a lot, basically. And not everyone gets it right! But a lot of places do, and they should be celebrated for it. As such, here’s an arbitrarily (but lovingly) selected collection of the best.
Hey, you heard of a little show called Girls? Starring Lena Dunham? Where they sometimes drink this coffee? No, but really, their iced coffee is excellent, and lives up to any and all hype. Extra points because that little grumpy-faced sleeve is a way better to deal with condensation than a damp cluster of napkins.
193 Meserole Ave
For those of you who like your iced coffee dark, and incredibly strong — I personally hate it this way and find it totally overwhelming, but to each their own — this place is worth the trip to Windsor Terrace. So much so that Kristin Iversen has been known to describe it as “rocket fuel.” Rocket fuel! There’s no way to say no to this.
3013 Ft. Hamilton Parkway
- Photo via FreeWilliamsburg
Really, good enough that it’s worth standing in line behind people who are hungover and taking too long to order their food. But also, this place is illustrative of a larger rule, which is that all good bagel places have top shelf iced coffee. All of them. Usually with a hazelnut variety as an added bonus. The same is generally true of anywhere that serves a good burrito.
189 Bedford Ave & 566 Lorimer St.
- Gorilla Coffee
I mean, these crazy little juice boxes of cold brew are pretty hard to resist, are they not? The coffee’s even better if you buy it in-house, but the innovation here is appreciated.
97 5th Ave & 264 41st St
One Girl Cookies
So, One Girl has the obvious advantage of being located right around the corner from our offices. But also, they make ice cubes out of more coffee to keep your coffee from diluting. This is incredible. Everyone should do this.
33 Main St. & 68 Dean St.
Grady’s Cold Brew
For the times when you want a re-sealable New Orleans-style coffee that reminds you of a tiny little Red Stripe.
Available at various locations. Gradyscoldbrew.com
- Inside Scoop SF
For the other times, when you want a re-sealable New Orleans-style coffee that reminds you of a tiny little chocolate milk.
160 Berry St.
Oslo needs no introduction on any kind of coffee-related list, obviously, but their iced coffee (and iced cafe au lait! fancy!) are genuinely a cut above most of the competition, helped along by their use of organic Clover milk. Just perfect.
133-B Roebling St.
Like a lot of other places, Skytown uses good beans, usually from Stumptown or Tar Pit. But, like Oslo, what really sets them apart is the superior milk selection. Specifically, homemade almond milk they’ll add to the iced coffee if you ask for it. Always, always ask for it.
Any decent deli
This is not a cop-out. As with bagel stores and burrito places, any deli that goes to the trouble of having iced coffee usually does it right, and there’s no point sending you out of your way to one that isn’t within a 2 block radius of your home and/or office. “Right,” in this case, means cheap, readily available, and just as crazily light and sweet as their regular coffee, easily eclipsing the need for Dunkin’ Donuts. One deli I know even has an iced coffee machine, with different pumps for different flavors. Completely laudable.
Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.