You can have your cake-batter vodka martini and eat it too at Tipsy Scoop (217 East 26th Street). Billed as New York’s first ice-cream “barlour”, the shop sells 14 flavours of boozy ice-cream inspired by drinks, from mango margarita to buttered rum. In the 1800s, owner Melissa Tavss’s Italian ancestors took gelato carts from Italy to Scotland; following their example, she introduced alcoholic ice-cream to New York this May. On a hot afternoon, the rosé sorbet makes a perfect refresher. For a more decadent treat, try the dark chocolate whiskey salted caramel. While it tastes rich and boozy, at 5% ABV, it’s far less damaging than the average cocktail.
Since Black Tap’s over-the-top milkshake went viral on Instagram last summer with its crazy toppings, New York ice-cream parlours have been churning out increasingly elaborate desserts. Instead of cones, Stuffed (139 1st Avenue) fills doughnuts with ice-cream and hot-presses them like panini sandwiches, while Wowfulls (309 East Houston Street) wraps Hong Kong-style egg waffles around colourful flavours like cotton candy pop rocks and blue-and-yellow-swirled crazy vanilla. If that’s not enough sugar, toppings include Teddy Grahams cookies, pocky sticks and drizzled matcha.
And Soft Swerve (85b Allen Street) makes creamy house-made flavours like ube (purple yam), green tea and black sesame. The ube soft serve has a richness that rivals chocolate; try it garnished with toasted coconut and chewy mochi in the Woodside sundae, or topped with fruity pebbles cereal and marshmallows in the Broadway.
While the colourful combinations easily lend themselves to photographs, Soft Swerve owners Michael Tsang and Jason Liu didn’t design their menu with Instagram in mind. Rather, the native New Yorkers wanted to pay homage to the city: each sundae evokes a particular street or neighbourhood. But they’re aware how important design has become: “These days, your camera eats first,” Tsang says. “Everyone wants that wow factor.”