At the time Neil Gaiman wrote ‘Have you ever spent days and days and days making up flavours of ice cream that no one’s ever eaten before?’ in his book, The Sandman, Vol 7, Mumbai-based Alok Rao was busy churning out ice-creams in his kitchen. His ice-creams though had a slight ‘kick’, they were made with alcohol.
A freelance fashion designer, Rao’s culinary skills were well-known. “I’ve always loved to cook and bake, and even experiment, particularly with non-Indian cuisine,” says Rao. It was one such experiment that led to the birth of Drunken Cream, Rao’s brand of liquor-infused ice-cream, a month ago. He would often make sorbets at home but they would crystallise easily. So, he tried to find ways to make regular ice-cream that wouldn’t crystallise. “I’d read somewhere that adding alcohol helps,” says Rao. A few drops of whiskey to the cherry ice-cream he had made, did the trick. “The whiskey gave the ice-cream a warm undertone and yet it was not overbearing.”
The success motivated him to experiment with other liquors and fruits and invite friends for a taste test. His friends were so sold on the ice-creams that they insisted on paying him for the tubs they took home. “They encouraged me to start Drunken Cream. I promoted it through a Facebook page and the response was better than I expected,” says Rao.
Drunken Cream has seven variants (Rs462 for a 500 gms tub). The Chocolate Crème De Menthe made with mint liqueur has a lingering menthol taste that instantly brings to mind After Eight chocolates. The bits of cherry in the Cherry Whiskey ice-cream melt in the mouth and the whiskey provides just the right kick. The Blueberry Ginger has a subtle vodka twist. The Almond Whiskey ice-cream finds inspiration from the amaretto, a sweet, almond-flavoured liqueur, and each bite is reminiscent of soft biscotti. There’s also a Chocolate Beer version. The Orange Brownie Grand Marnier wins this writer’s vote with its cognac liqueur offset by the taste of fresh oranges and the Coffee Oreo Rum comes in a close second as the crunchiness of the Oreo blends beautifully with the coffee and rum. Rao is now experimenting with champagne, wine and cocktails like Margaritas and Pinacoladas.
The ice-creams are made from scratch without any artificial essence. All the ice-creams are deliciously creamy and fresh. Rao admits that he spent hours in the kitchen, whipping the cream to get the right consistency.
The USP of Drunken Cream is alcohol but Rao says that the high point really is that the flavours can be customised. “If someone has an idea, they can tell me and I’ll try it out. The Orange Brownie Grand Marnier was discovered like that,” he says.
After dinner dessert and drinks just got a whole new meaning!