Would you rather have a drink or an ice cream? Trick question: In these 10 spots, you can have both, together. Ice cream shops across the United States are kicking up your frozen confections with a dash of firewater, and we’re all about it. Here are some of our favorite cocktail bar–ice cream parlor hybrids that specialize in just that.
Butter & Scotch
When the banal realities of adulthood get you down, a visit to Butter & Scotch, a booze-infused daydream of a soda shop in Crown Heights, is just what the doctor ordered. Here, you can have your vodka martini and your hot fudge sundae too (in fact, it’s a pairing called the Mary Ellen, named after one of the founders’ grandmas). Or choose from a menu of alcohol-enhanced floats and shakes using local Blue Marble organic ice cream, like the Pretty in Pink, made with Aperol, rosé, seltzer, and strawberry ice cream. The inventive cocktail menu changes seasonally, and the theme of the current winter one is “witchy women”—with a $1 from each drink going to Planned Parenthood.
The Ice Cream Bar
Entering this Cole Valley soda fountain is like stepping back in time. Soda jerks wearing bow ties and white paper hats build banana splits and pour thick milk shakes into tall, ruffled glasses. But look closer and you’ll realize The Ice Cream Bar isn’t only for ice cream. See that arsenal of bitters bottles? Those aren’t for decoration; they’re used in the menu of “remedies” for those 21 and over. Here you’ll find next-level adult milk shakes like the Fortunato’s Reviver, made with a blend of Hidalgo Napoleon Amontillado sherry, Carpano Antica, black walnuts, and both caramelized honey and vanilla ice creams—and floats like the Dublin Honey, crafted from Guinness stout, caramelized honey ice cream, Valrhona chocolate syrup, and a float of Graham’s 10-year tawny port.
Shug’s Soda Fountain
When Seattle’s seasonal depression hits, why head for a coffee shop when you can visit Shug’s, a modernized 1930s-era soda fountain in Pike Place Market? Cheerful soda jerks scoop daily flavors of Lopez Island Creamery ice cream for splits, sundaes, and floats (which can be made with champagne or beer). Or order from a menu of specialty ice cream cocktails, like the Great Escape (made with Contratto Vermouth Bianco, rum soda, and pineapple and coconut ice cream) or Standing in the Rain (St. Germain, gin, soda, lavender bitters, and a cucumber-lime sorbet float). Still need that caffeine fix? It also offers affogatos, which can—and should—be spiked with Frangelico, Bailey’s, or Kahlua.
The climate in central Texas calls for ice cream year-round, and it’s no secret that Austin likes to tipple, so Prohibition Creamery put the two delicious vices together in a renovated bungalow on the lively East Side. The ice cream here is crafted in-house, with flavors like whiskey chocolate, pecan buttered rum, and mezcal vanilla. These may be enjoyed in a fresh-pressed waffle cone, with toppings like boozy brownie bits, or in specialty sundaes like the Deconstructed Old Fashioned (bourbon ice cream, Peychaud’s bitters marshmallows, Luxardo cherry, candied orange, and bourbon whipped cream). In addition to cocktails designed to pair with the ice creams, the bar also makes a variety of boozy shakes in flavors like bananas foster (Brugal Añejo rum, Giffard banana liqueur, salted caramel) and horchata (RumChata, Chameleon cold-brew coffee, cinnamon).
Comfort food is the name of the game at this D.C.-area diner, and what’s cozier than the marriage of booze and homemade ice cream? Slide onto a swiveling stool at the retro bar and choose from a chalkboard list of adult milk shakes like a Grasshopper (made with Kahlua and crème de menthe), a Key Lime Pie (with coconut rum) or the Nutty Professor (with hazelnut liqueur). For a special occasion, indulge in the Millionaire Malt, made with Glenlivet 18-year scotch, and order the off-menu ice cream sandwich made with two Ted’s tarts (its festive, besprinkled take on a Pop-Tart).
Boiler Room in Logan Square keeps things simple, specializing in pizza, cocktails, and boozy soft serve. Potent vanilla Jameson is always on the menu, best enjoyed in a milk stout float, while other flavors—like the butterscotch liqueur with honey whiskey or spiked eggnog—rotate seasonally. Order a swirl with hot housemade doughnuts on the side, or enjoy it straight up. You’ll be walking out on a cloud either way.
Clementine’s Naughty & Nice Creamery
This St. Louis ice cream parlor uses local milk from grass-fed, pasture-raised, hormone-free cows to craft all-natural, small-batch ice cream. In addition to “nice” flavors like gooey butter cake and manchego with truffles and honey, there are always several “naughty” offerings on hand for guests 21 and up—such as chocolate cabernet and maple bourbon with salted candied pecans. Opt for a waffle cone or bowl and add on creative toppings like Mike’s Hot Honey, candied bacon, olive oil, and cracked black pepper. Pro tip: Combine naughty and nice scoops for the ultimate well-balanced flavor sensation.
Butterfly Ice Cream
Butterfly Ice Cream specializes in small-batch seasonal offerings and always has a number of liquor-enhanced flavors, with ice creams like dark beer, pear sangria, green apple sake, and cherry moscato, and sorbets like peach champagne, strawberry daiquiri, and watermelon soju sorbet. Enjoy your selections in a fresh-pressed waffle cone or go all out and order your scoops atop a hot, homemade waffle. Then watch the ice-cream masters as they work in the pristine lab, separated from the shop by glass.
Buzzed Bull Creamery
Part ice cream shop, part bar, and part mad scientist’s lab, Buzzed Bull Creamery uses liquid nitrogen to freeze creamy, boozy desserts right before your very eyes. Customize your own creation by choosing a base flavor (“buzzed” options include white Russian, rum and coke, gin and juice, and honey bourbon), then add fruit, nut, and candy mix-ins. It also offers a menu of house creations, like the namesake Buzzed Bull (coffee, bourbon, caramel, nuts, and whipped cream) and the Bonfire (marshmallow, Fireball, chocolate chips, and graham cracker), plus seasonal specials. A wide selection of alcohol means you can get the dessert version of a well drink or opt for top-shelf treatment for an extra charge.
The Tipsy Scoop
New York City
This little Kips Bay ice cream “barlour” packs a big punch with its handmade ice cream, crafted with local ingredients. You’ll get carded at the door on your way to flavors like chocolate stout pretzel, red velvet martini, and mango margarita. Can’t decide? Opt for a flight, which comes with four flavors—and drops to $8 during happy hour (4-6 p.m). It even offers ice cream sandwiches in rotating flavors like funfetti cookies with cake batter–vodka martini ice cream and chocolate-chip cookie with spiked hazelnut coffee ice cream. The cherry on this boozy sundae? The intoxicating pints can be found at retailers all over and shipped anywhere in the United States if you order online.
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