Ice cream’s origins go way back. Alexander the Great enjoyed a primitive version of freshly fallen snow flavored with honey and nectar. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are said to have served the creamy treat at presidential dinners.
Not so very long ago, New York had limited choices in frozen desserts, just a few flavors and an industrial-made product. Rainbow sprinkles and whipped topping sprayed from an aerosol can were as fancy as it got. Today, our city is loaded with wake-me-up varieties made in small batches with wholesome ingredients. If you’re a fiend for the frozen, your taste buds should be singing an icy tune.
Here are a few of our favorite ways to indulge in this quintessential summertime treat. The cool and creamy list is by no means comprehensive, so weigh in and add your perfect scoop.
Ample Hills-Locations in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan
Ample Hills Creamery is dedicated to making ice cream the old-fashioned way, slowly and by hand. They start with hormone-free milk and cream from grass-fed cows and add quality ingredients. Winning flavors include Snap Mallow Pop, a de-constructed Rice Krispies treat. The Munchies is a crunchy jumble of pretzels, potato chip, Ritz crackers and M & Ms, perfect for texture junkies.
Mix-ins, like honeycomb candy and brownies, are made in-house, from scratch. If licking their yummy sweet stuff is not enough, join one of their master classes and learn to make-it-yourself.
Big Gay Ice Cream-Manhattan and Philly
The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck made its seasonal debut in 2009. They opened their first brick-and-mortar shop two years later and now have Big Gay Ice Cream outposts in lower Manhattan and Philly. They blend traditional flavors and presentations with newfangled ones, infusing whimsy and a splash of humor into each lick.
The Salty Pimp Cone is a high-end take on the classic soft-serve chocolate bonnet, a vanilla swirl dipped in chocolate that hardens to create a shiny shell. Big Gay blends dulce de leche into the vanilla swirl and uses fine dark chocolate flavored with a pinch of salt, elevating it to gourmet status.
Ice & Vice-East Broadway
This Lower East Side shop creates experimental flavors that push the boundaries, which helps to explain Ice & Vice’s legions of devoted fans. Olive Garden, rich with olive oil, black garlic and sweet corn crumble, hits all the right notes in a big way. Even the simple vanilla is rich with Mexican vanilla and black lava sea salt, upping the flavor profile like no other vanilla you’ve ever tasted. They offer a range of innovative offerings that are crafted with care and expertise.
Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream- Rivington Street
Morgenstern’s is a modern take on the classic American ice cream parlor, serving nostalgic treats made with primo ingredients. Each texture-driven flavor is made without additives or processed stabilizers, with plenty of attention to delicious details. Go for broke and order the King Kong Banana Split or try the Avocado Ice Cream Toast. Floats and shakes are winners.
Odd Fellows-Williamsburg and Lower East Side
At Odd Fellows, they pasteurize locally sourced dairy products on location, adding depth and nuance to their inventive flavors. They have offered over 200 bold flavors since opening in 2013, including edamame and miso cherry. The Williamsburg branch offers 12 rotating flavors while the Lower East Side serves eight. Try the Odd Pocket, a toasted brioche bun filled with ice cream. They donate a portion of each ice cream sold to the Food Bank fro New York City.
NYC Summer Ice Cream Blizzard- Upper West Side
On July 16, smack in the middle of the dog days of summer, comes the ultimate way to cool off. Dozens of artisanal ice cream makers will gather on the Upper West Side, where the hot and hungry sample may cool cones. The event takes place at the Grand Bazaar at 100 West 77th Street. Entrance is free but you’ll need to register at eventbrite.
Photo credit: Lucy Schaeffer
Allison is a native New Yorker, who has lived in Rome, Tuscany, Melbourne, Toronto and Los Angeles. She frequently contributes travel pieces to Family Travel Forum, using her own children as guinea pigs as they travel the globe. She is fluent in Italian and Spanish and laughably adequate in French. Her background as an Early Childhood Educator gives her an added understanding of what it takes to travel with kids in tow. She firmly believes that the most important part of education takes place outside of the classroom, on the road, around the world. She never misses a chance to sample local delicacies, as her love for travel goes hand-in-hand with her love for food and wine. Follow Allison at @gourmetrav.