Fancy a ‘freak shake’, a hokey pokey simmer fix, old fashioned lemonade or even a vegan blue jelly drink with edible sea creatures? These are just some of the crazy and delectable drinks up for grabs when New Zealand’s only cold drink challenge kicks off in Lower Hutt this week.

The “Cool As” Summer Refresher Drink Challenge, into it’s fourth year, will see 15 hospitality operators including cafes, restaurants, bars and a bakery in Lower Hutt create their own limited-edition signature summer refresher drinks for people to enjoy over three weeks. Customers will be the given the chance to vote for their favourite drink by ballot or on “Cool As” Summer Refresher’s Facebook page, with the winner declared at the end of the challenge which takes place between 14 January – 3 February.

The challenge, founded by the Hutt City Council as a way to inspire local cafes to be creative and attract people to the Lower Hutt CBD, has grown in popularity since it was launched in 2016 due to the success of the Sweet As Hutt’s Hot Chocolate Challenge in the winter of 2015.

Council’s CBD Development Manager and organiser Cyndi Christensen says there’s not only been a jump in cafe’s wanting to participate in the challenge but the number of summer refresher drinks consumed continues to rise every year.

“The hospitality business can be very competitive so it’s wonderful to see our local cafes banding together as a collective in this challenge.  Last year there was also a 400% increase in votes – from 277 in 2017 to 1135 in 2018 which shows people are really taking advantage of the signature drinks on offer.  It’s wonderful for the Hutt City because it attracts visitors from outside the region and also encourages locals to try out new cafes that otherwise wouldn’t have usually frequented.

There is no restriction on entries for the challenge – they just need to be cold and refreshing. We’ve noticed many drinks entered this year have an international theme with quite a few mocktails this year. Customers will be able to enjoy a wide range of flavoursome signature drinks to tempt any taste buds – from smoothies, iced teas and coffees, crazy shakes and unique fruit drinks. There is even a vegan option this year!” says Christensen

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