Ice cream with a buzz

Make text smaller Make text larger

Tipsy Scoop, a new “barlour,” opens this weekend


  • The ice cream "barlour." Photo courtesy of Melissa Tavss

  • Treats from Tipsy Scoop. Photo courtesy of Melissa Tavss

Of all the places in New York that might ask to see your ID, an ice cream shop seems like one of the least likely spots. Tipsy Scoop, a new ice cream “barlour” on East 26th Street, is about to change that. Opening on Sunday, May 7, the small shop boasts a decadent menu of boozy ice creams infused with alcohol. Founder and Manhattan native Melissa Tavss, 29, says she hopes to create a fun and exciting atmosphere with her experimental ice cream flavors.

“I want it to sort of be like when you go to one of those mixology bars and they’re like, ‘what kind of liquor do you usually like?’ and we’ll try to help people out with that,” said Tavss.

Tipsy Scoop has been in operation as an online and catering business for more than three years, and began selling products in stores like Whole Foods two years ago. Tavss says she never had plans to open up a storefront. That is, until people began popping up at Tipsy Scoop’s East Harlem production facility, looking to grab a cone.

“People kept showing up, so we’re like, I guess we’ll try it!” Tavss said.

Tavss’s favorite flavor: the spiked hazelnut coffee — a mix of cold brew coffee, hazelnut liquor and Cafe Patron.

“It’s awesome, it’s so good,” she said. “I think the best-seller is definitely the dark chocolate whiskey salted caramel. In the stores they can’t keep that on the shelves.”

The barlour will also offer virgin flavor options, like root beer float and Shirley Temple, for those who want to enjoy their ice cream sans alcohol. For the lactose intolerant, there will be dairy-free, vegan options, like the refreshing raspberry limoncello sorbet. And for those who just can’t choose, there will be a flight option that features four flavors in chocolate and sprinkle-rimmed shot glasses.

The secret to getting her ice cream to freeze while still containing a sizable amount of alcohol is just that, Tavss says — a secret.

“We have a custom ice cream mix made for us to be able to freeze the alcohol,” she said. “It is a softer consistency, but it’s still creamy, which is good.”

For Tavss, Tipsy Scoop was as an “accidental business.” While working in marketing for liquor companies as a day job, she became fixated on creating the perfect homemade ice cream.

“It’s really hard to do in a tiny Cuisinart machine, so I was using alcohol in the beginning to soften the ice cream,” she said.

Tavss began to toy with the idea of getting her ice cream to hold a measurable alcohol content, as opposed to other desserts like rum cake where the volume of alcohol is almost non-existent. Soon, her now in-demand recipes were born.

While Tavss herself had no previous culinary experience, creating and sharing ice cream is a central part of her family history.

“My great-grandfather was actually the president of the Ice Cream Alliance in Great Britain, which I’m sure you didn’t even know was a thing, but I have a picture of the plaque to prove it,” she said. “They were Scottish-Italian so they brought over gelato carts from Italy to Scotland in the 1800s ... some of the first gelato carts in Scotland.”

Tavss started out by catering friends’ weddings and events for her old marketing clients — “a pretty natural fit for liquor brands,” she says. This soon grew to include other corporate events, birthdays and office happy hours.

Being a small-scale, local business with only eight employees, Tavss tries to utilize locally-sourced ingredients in Tipsy Scoop’s recipes.

“We work with a lot of different smaller liquor brands too,” Tavss said. “Our ice cream mix is made in a dairy farm in New York, so it’s New York certified.”

As for whether it’s possible to get drunk off of eating ice cream, Tavss says that all depends on how much of the dessert you can tolerate.

“Two scoops is around the size of a light beer,” she said. “If you’re one of those people who can eat a gallon of ice cream on the couch, you might start to feel it.”

Make text smaller Make text larger




Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Neighborhood Newsletters