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One fell scoop

(article, Ashley Griffin Gartland)

Ice cream has few rivals as a kid's dessert. Come maturity, however, dessert wines and digestifs start to win after-dinner affection. Mixing the two together works beautifully; rum raisin is perhaps the best-known combination of dairy and alcohol, but there's also the tried-and-true Baskin-Robbins blend with the euphemistic title of Daiquiri Ice.

What's so special about whirling the two together? As David Lebovitz points out in his new book, The Perfect Scoop, "Alcohol does two things in ice cream: it prevents ice creams and sorbets from freezing too hard (alcohol doesn't freeze), and it provides flavor." 

Alcohol can be a godsend to home ice-cream concocters, since the homemade stuff often freezes quite hard (home machines lack the whipping power of industrial ones). Don't overdo the booze, however; as Lebovitz warns, "If you add too much, the mixture might not freeze at all, and you'll be left with a runny mess." (So that's why Daiquiri Ice always melted so fast.)

Don't feel like dragging the home machine out of the kitchen cabinet? Several local companies serve up tipsy treats, including the beer-flavored stuff at Amy's Ice Cream in Texas, and the Bourbon Raisin, Strawberry Mimosa, and Margarita Sorbet flavors at Jake's Ice Creams & Sorbets in Georgia.

In December, Mercer's Ice Cream in Boonville, New York, also launched a line of alcoholic ice cream. A serving of one of the company's three wine-based flavors — Ala Port Wine, Peachy White Zinfandel, and Red Raspberry Chardonnay — packs the inebriating punch of a glass of wine. And no, they don't sell the stuff to minors.

Thus far, the Mercer ice creams are available only in New York City restaurants, but the dairy plans to launch the line nationally. Until then, crack open Lebovitz's book and try one of his spiked recipes (he provides more than two dozen, including Zabaglione Gelato) for yourself.