Calling all summer drink aficionados…let’s talk warm-weather beverages.
Southwest Michigan is blessed with an abundance of locally-owned cafes and restaurants, many of which create non-alcoholic refreshments to satisfy the taste buds of customers looking for a fun (and sometimes fizzy) way to sip into summer.
If you’re looking for a tasty beverage for the beach or a mid-day way to refresh, check out these 12 summer drinks made locally:
1. Caffe Tosi – Blueberry Hibiscus Iced Tea (Caffeine Free)
To kick off our list, we’re starting with the new, caffeine free Blueberry Hibiscus iced tea from Caffe Tosi. A quaint Italian eatery just steps from Lake Michigan, Caffe Tosi is known for its freshly-made beverages like espresso, latte, and Borgia. But hot espresso drinks are just the tip of the iceberg at Caffe Tosi, and guests wanting something cool to drink on a warm summer day can try the Ginger Peach iced tea or Iced London Fog with Lavender. And if you’re looking for a classic iced tea combination, stop in and ask for an Arnold Palmer for a refreshing addition to any afternoon.
2. Buchanan Sweet Shop – Green River
Longtime residents of Buchanan will tell you this drink from the Buchanan Sweet Shop is a right of passage for anyone growing up here, but it’s also gained quite a following beyond locals. It’s hard to describe the flavor of this colorful phosphate drink, but as a staple since the 1950s, it’s a mixture of lemon-lime, bubbles, and nostalgia and is best consumed while sitting on a stool at the original (and newly-restored) malt-shop counter.
3. Mikey’s Drive-In – Frosty Mug of Root Beer
Speaking of nostalgia, does any beverage scream “summertime” more than an icy cold root beer served in a frosty mug? Step back in time on your next lunch break and head over to Mikey’s Drive-In for a taste of your childhood served in the form of a Chicago Style Hot Dog and a refreshing beverage to wash it down.
4. Union Coffee House & Café – Lavender Lemonade
If you ask the Union staff to make you their most popular cold drink, they’ll quickly mix up a Lavender Lemonade to hand across the counter. Both lovely and refreshing, this colorful version of a summertime classic is the perfect accompaniment to an afternoon stroll.
5. Small Town Grounds – Iced Mocha
Ice and coffee are the undisputed power couple of the warm weather months, and this is definitely true at Small Town Grounds. Fans of their Iced Mocha love the flavor of this summer staple and point out the extra special touch – the ice cubes are made out of coffee.
6. Soulard’s – Themed Shakes
If you prefer your summer beverage to include ice cream, look no further than Soulard’s in downtown Coloma. With a rotating menu of themed drinks throughout the year, they take shakes to the next level. When you top a Shamrock Shake with Andes Mints AND cookies, you’re doing it right. And they keep this creativity going all year round with new creations like a Friends themed shake topped with brownies and cookies called “Phoebe’s Smelly Cat.”
7. Brew Ha Ha Café – Handcrafted Lemon Shake Ups
If you’re in Niles and have a hankering for a handcrafted beverage, stop by Brew Ha Ha and ask Joyce for a delicious Lemon Shake Up. It’s crisp, refreshing, and includes just the right amount of tangy and sweet. If you’re in a hurry, place your order at the drive-thru and enjoy your drink as you drive to your next destination. But, there’s also a patio if you’d rather sip and savor a few stolen moments from a busy day.
8. Las Mangonadas – Pina Colada or Fresh Water Combo
The frozen yogurt shop of Las Mangonadas in Coloma is famous for its never-ending menu of creative drinks featuring fresh ingredients. If you’re in the mood for a taste of the tropics, check out their Pina Colada served in a pineapple shell topped with fresh pineapple and strawberries with a sweet cherry on top. Or, the Fresh Water Combo made with flavored fruit water, a scoop of ice cream, fresh fruit, and topped with Chamoy and Tajin. According to Yarley Gonzalez Romero, “The family of Las Mangonadas works very hard to elaborate on our recipes, but we do it with a lot of love for our customers and we want to give them the best!”
9. Mabuhay – Bubble Tea
A fan favorite, the bubble tea from Mabuhay Oriental Store can include a variety of flavors from mango to Nutella and include tapioca pearls or fruit-flavored bubble balls for the popping experience. Choose your own beverage adventure with this option, and come back each week for a new combination to make your taste buds sing!
10. Gabrizio – Pesca
If you need a quick summer drink on the go, check out the travel-friendly Pesca from Gabrizio in Niles. Bottled and ready for pick-up, Pesca is made from filtered water, cane sugar, fresh lemon juice, peach puree, honey, and natural orange flavor. And while you’re there, grab a delicious sandwich or a mouth-watering dessert from the showcase.
11. River Saint Joe – Farm Fizzes
Ask any group of Southwest Michigan residents about their favorite summer drink, and inevitably someone will enthusiastically offer up the Farm Fizzes from River Saint Joe. House-made sodas with items locally foraged and farmed, these non-alcoholic beverages pair perfectly with the panoramic view of Flatwater Farms. Now serving three flavors, be sure to try the Berry Cherry, Fall Apple, or Lickity Mint on your next trip.
12. Dairy Korner – Banana Split Shake
Let’s end this list with a drink that could double as a dessert! The Banana Split Shake from Dairy Korner in St. Joseph combines all the ingredients of the classic ice cream treat in a convenient delivery method. Treat yourself after a long day of work and grab a shake for the ride home…don’t worry, we won’t tell the kids.
This article – and your next summer beverage – are brought to you by Caffe Tosi, in downtown St. Joseph. Caffe Tosi offers “The tastes of Italy in the heart of Michigan.” Serving delectable breakfasts plus lunch, dinner, and a host of beverages and treats. Stop in today!
About the Writer: Stacey Martin is a local author and freelance writer with a passion for promoting Southwest Michigan. Take writing off your to-do list and inquire about content creation for your business at staceymartinwrites.com. She is the author of We Grow Kids Here and New Girl at Church, and the creator and host of “The Folks Back Home” podcast.