Long gone are the days where you have to chase down Mister Softee for your ice cream fix. Coming out of the frosty gate strong this summer is a bevy of forward-thinking parlors and dessert innovators ready to push the boundaries of what’s possible when combining milk, sugar, and ice. There is so much cold fusion happening in the city, they had to establish an entire museum dedicated to ice cream. So join us, won’t you, for a much-needed deep dive (deep taste?) on the State of the Cone.
Crazy, Cool Concoctions
You might think that these creations would be too crazy to work, but Ice + Vice’s “basics”—the Vietnamese coffee–infused 9am, the not-so-scandalous Opium Den with white sesame and toasted poppy seeds—and specials (its ice-cold #OpenBar includes sweet takes on the Michelada, Amaretto Sour, and Bee’s Knees) are edgy and tasty enough for even the coolest New Yorker’s freezer. Should you prefer your ice cream as limited edition as your kicks, the Cobble Hill–based MilkMade creates several ’screams catering to a certain theme—its Summer in the City collection includes flavors inspired by the Mermaid Parade, Movies Under the Stars, and the Jazz Age Lawn Party. Keep in mind that flavors are never repeated, so don’t get too attached to any one taste.
If this summer is proof of anything, it’s that ice cream can be sandwiched in between other desserts: rainbow cookies, churros, waffles, Japanese monaka crackers, seriously dreamy cake, raw cookie dough, and even watermelon. Traditionalists, fortunately, won’t be missing out. Aside from classic ice cream sandwiches at the Nomad, the Good Batch, and Davey’s Ice Cream, the Chipwich is officially back at your corner bodega! Wait, where did it go in the first place?
The classic chocolate-vanilla swirl, meanwhile, is no match for the soft serve on the streets today. With more and more esteemed eateries installing soft-serve machines, savory stops like Eleven Madison Park’s fast-casual Made Nice (Creamsicle floats featuring milk-flavored soft serve), haute Brooklyn burger truck Mister Dips (swirls coated in strawberry and peanut butter shells), and Chelsea Market vendor Seed + Mill (appropriately serving tahini goat milk ice cream) are becoming sweeter destinations. As for the standard sweet shops, they’re taking bigger risks that pay off for your palate—honey chamomile and lemon ginger swirled together at Oddfellows’s Williamsburg parlor, Chanson’s kouign- amann crumbles topping potent black sesame ice cream, and 24-karat magic covering Matcha n’ More’s green tea cream.
More Is More
Why limit yourself to only one scoop of ice cream when you can have 21? If you’re a glutton for dessert (and inevitable intestinal punishment that comes with it), Stuffed Ice Cream’s gravity-defying bouquet takes care of your sweet cravings with almost two dozen scoops of all your favorites stacked atop each other. Not the sharing type? Fany Gerson’s Mexican heladeria La Newyorkina also makes a sampler bouquet, albeit an easier one to tackle since the seven scoops are about the size of melon balls.
But what about that ever-humble second fiddle of sweets, the cone? The edible vessel that holds your scoops together deserves your attention, too! The Konery’s rainbow of waffle cones has been making the trek from its Brooklyn base to some of your go-to ice cream stops in recent memory; Stax Ice Cream and Milk & Cream regularly stock up on these small-batch, colorful creations. And while not many places go out of their way to make their own cones, that’s not the case at Ample Hills and Chikalicious. While the former balances out the sweet with its salty pretzel cone, the latter turns one dessert into two with its Portuguese-influenced churro cone. And if there are two words that can instantly improve one’s day, they have to be: “churro cone.”