Making homemade ice cream is a bit like mixing a cocktail: it’s an easy way to impress, as long as you follow a good recipe. And like a good cocktail, ice cream can include a kick of whisky, making for a refreshing, delicious spiked frozen treat.
Incorporating whisky into your ice cream is pretty simple, and once you feel confident making a batch of basic bourbon vanilla, you can play around with other flavors, using your favorite cocktails as inspiration. From the Manhattan to the Mint Julep, you’ll wonder why you didn’t add whisky to your ice cream machine sooner.
Follow these tips from the pros to churn your own whisky ice cream.
Don’t be a lush
The biggest challenge when making spiked ice cream, of course, is that alcohol doesn’t freeze. “You can only put a certain amount in, otherwise your ice cream will come out soupy,” warns Lauren Schultz, co-owner of Purple Door Ice Cream in Milwaukee.
There are two ways to do this. First, you can put the whisky in a pot over a low flame and let the alcohol burn off until it’s reduced by about half. Or you can use Schultz’s preferred method, which is simply limiting how much alcohol you add. “This keeps the integrity of the whisky and brings out the flavor more,” she says.
The ice cream makers at Coolhaus stick to a maximum of 1/4 cup of whisky to every 1 1/2 quarts of ice cream base, according to cofounder Natasha Case.
Think of it as the finishing touch
Wait to add the whisky until you’ve made your base. Then stir it in and set everything in the fridge to cool. Whisk the cooled mixture one more time before your pour it into your ice cream machine to be sure everything is nicely incorporated.
Watch your salt
If your ice cream recipe calls for salt, be mindful. “Alcohol and salt both lower the freezing temperature, so adding too much salt to a boozy ice cream could make it hard for your ice cream to set up,” Case explains.
Add a little vanilla
Depending on what flavor you’re making, add a touch of vanilla to your mix. “It will help bring out the flavor of the whisky,” Schultz says. However, if vanilla seems like it would mask other flavors or be off-putting, omit it.
Blend in bourbon
Bourbon may be the best whisky for ice cream, experts say. “Scotch has an edginess that can come out in ice cream, whereas bourbon is sweeter and fuller,” says Steve Schultz, Lauren’s husband and Purple Door’s co-owner. But just as with drinking your whisky, use what you like best.
Give it time
When you’re ready to scoop up your delicious creation, be patient. “It tastes best if you let it sit for 15 minutes or so, until it just starts to glaze on the top—that’s when the flavors really come through,” Steve Schultz says. So put your container out on the counter and go catch up on Instagram for a bit.