If you’re like me, I am always on the look out for something sweet, which is not necessarily a bad way to live. However, sometimes I choose to skip dessert and enjoy a glass of wine after dinner. It’s called balance. Well, low and behold, now I can enjoy both in one sitting! I came across an article on Tipsy Scoops and I was intrigued. Vanilla Bean Bourbon, Raspberry Limoncello, Dark Chocolate Whiskey Salted Caramel, Cake Batter Vodka Martini, and Mango Margarita…these are not cocktails but ice cream and gelato flavors! How tasty could these ice creams and gelatos be? I was on a mission to find out if this dessert was really all it was cracked up to be so I met with Founder and CEO, Melissa Tavss, one hot afternoon (how ironic it was a nice hot day perfect for a refreshing sweet treat:), to learn more about her boozy sweet.
How did you get into the ice cream game?
My great grandfather was actually the President of the Ice Cream Alliance in Great Britain! After graduating from the University of Richmond, I worked in Marketing for the Wine & Spirits industry for several years. We were always experimenting with infusing liquor into foods for different company events. I started to play around with ice cream and sorbets to see what I could create on my own. While at NYU studying for my Masters degree, I started working with a chemist to create artisanal liquor-infused ice cream and sorbets. With most cakes and baked goods, the liquor is cooked off so you are left with a hint of liquor. We worked hard on developing the right base for the ice cream and gelato and then experimented with different premium liquors to create more of a “cocktail” satisfying treat rather than your typical dessert.
Once you left your job to devote yourself fulltime to Tipsy Scoop, did you work out of a shared kitchen space?
Yes. We were accepted into a Shared-Kitchen Incubator Program, Hot Bread Kitchen, located in the Bronx. Entrepreneurs and small businesses present their business plan in order to be considered for a space in this location. Once accepted, small businesses work in a supportive collaborative environment with fellow culinary professionals. The Hot Bread program provides kitchen space, equipment, marketing support, product development business guidance. It’severything a small startup might need to launch a successful business. They offer workshops and speaker presentations but more importantly, it was an incredibly supportive community of culinary professionals helping each other.
In the Spring of 2015, we were definitely outgrowing our space and as luck would have it, an ice cream maker in our building was moving. So, we were able to move out of the shared kitchen space into our their kitchen space in the same building. Our business at the time consisted primarily of corporate events and catering. Our next big break came with Whole Foods sourcing our product. We learned a lot during this time frame as we had different restrictions for shelf placement and distribution due to our 5% ABV (alcohol by volume). Whole Foods worked with us on our packaging and designated special shelf space for our boozy treats.
How hard is it to create liquor-infused ice cream or gelato without the finished product tasting icy?
Adding alcohol to an ice cream or gelato base actually makes for a softer easier to scoop dessert. Alcohol has a lower freezing point so it will be creamier. The risk is adding too much alcohol thereby turning your ice cream into a boozy slushy which no one likes.
When did you decide to open a storefront?
We had been working in our kitchen in the Bronx for eighteen months when people started showing up at our warehouse asking for tastings, cones, and pints. We did not know how people found us but we were blown away by the number of people who came to our facility to buy our ice cream and gelato. We were not set up to sell retail at this location, so with the demand increasing for a store front, I decided to open a shop or barlour as we call it in Kips Bay. I love the area and it happens to be my neighborhood so I knew there was a need for something like it in our area. This was our first summer and it was crazy busy! We had lines out the door when we first opened and we have had a steady business ever since.
What are your most popular flavors? Do people really buy pints to take home?
Dark Chocolate Whiskey Salted Caramel is our most popular selling ice cream and the Mango Margarita Sorbet is our most popular gelato.
Yes! We sell insulated tote bags with dry ice for people to cart their pints home.
Do you have any events planned for the fall or special flavors for the season?
We have a host of special events planned. Check out our website for upcoming announcements with respect to our holiday flights and collaborations with various partners.
We just released our seasonal flavors for October: Candy Corn Vodka Martini, Salted Caramel Apple Brandy, and Spiked Spiced Pumpkin Pie.
Where can we purchase Tipsy Scoop?
We are located at 217 east 26th Street in Manhattan and at a host of retailers all listed on our website. You can also get Tipsy Scoops shipped to you direct via Goldbely.
On a personal note, I decided to buy the Dark Chocolate Whiskey Salted Caramel and the Mango Margarita to bring home to New Jersey. All I can say, it lasted the 90 minute commute home which was longer than it lasted in my freezer!