A Skeptic’s Take On Whiskey Ice Cream
It was with some trepidation that I approached the Jameson whiskey ice cream at Boiler Room in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. As a rule, I don’t drink anything that starts with a J. People usually look totally befuddled when I say this—before I rattle off the list: Jack Daniel’s, Jim Beam, Jägermeister, and, of course, the aforementioned Jameson.
Alcoholic desserts are hard. Balancing sweetness, usually something like ice cream, and alcohol can generally lead to a whole mess of unfortunate results (see: the mudslide).
It helped that it happened to be a very hot, very muggy day. But when I sidled up to the bar and asked to learn a little more about the Jameson soft serve and how it’s made, I learned just one fact: it’s a secret.
Not Even Jameson Knows the Whiskey Ice Cream Recipe
Thought up by Boiler Room’s first chef, the recipe has been closely kept under wraps for the last few years—especially from Jameson, which has persistently (and sometimes sneakily) tried to get the chefs at the popular pizza joint to fork it over.
Chef John Steinfels and bar manager Erik Dorf did tell me that at any given time, the restaurant has two flavors of boozy soft serve available because, as it turns out, some people truly abhor Jameson. On this particular day, aside from the Jameson iteration, there was also the Flying Monk, a mixture of Old Crow, amaretto, espresso vodka, and what I’m certain were other secret ingredients. I got to daintily spoon both of the cold concoctions into my mouth.
The Jameson soft serve was, to my relief, more than just palatable. The Irish whiskey describes itself as exhibiting “exceptional smoothness,” though I would heartily disagree. But the soft serve was more like the far-off echoes of Jameson, echoes that had softened dramatically while still remaining intact. What I’d say is a rather sour flavor (the whiskey) is present immediately, for just a split second, before it mellows and quickly transitions to notes of coffee, caramel, and strong vanilla.
OK fine, it was pretty good.
The Flying Monk flavor wasn’t nearly as strong—and my palate was also beginning to frost over—but it wasn’t as coffee-y as I had hoped, and the vodka tasted apparent in the final notes that lingered, unwanted, since I’ve never fancied myself a vodka woman.
These soft-serve flavors rotate often, and Steinfels said they do seasonal flavors around the holidays, like pumpkin in the fall and peppermint around Christmas. And they’re always boozy.
Yes, You Can Get Drunk Off Alcoholic Desserts
“But just how boozy are they?” I wondered. “And how much of this will I have to eat before I feel drunk?”
It took about eight minutes to find out.
"Whiskey soft serve" photo by Andrew Nawrocki, Groupon
A native of the city of big shoulders, Lisa is a small-shouldered books and booze enthusiast living on Chicago's Northwest side with a large cat, a tiny bar, and a medium-sized library.