I Scream, You Scream, New York State Legalizes Liquor-Infused Ice Cream

We all scream inside our hearts.

Friends Cheers with Ice Cream
Photo: Getty Images / EyeEm

Two summers ago, New York governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that made it legal to produce beer- and hard cider-infused ice cream in the state, a piece of legislation that literally just added the words "beer and hard cider" to a decade-old law that had given the go-ahead for wine ice creams.

Now Cuomo has done it again. On Tuesday, he signed legislation that allows the manufacture and sale of ice cream made with hard liquor. "The craft beverage industry has experienced explosive growth in New York and with that comes a responsibility to advance regulations that help ensure long-term viability, protect consumers and provide farmers with opportunities to increase their business," Cuomo said in a statement.

"This legislation will further grow a burgeoning industry and boost small businesses while helping to put them on a path of sustained growth that empowers both producers and consumers." (And, yes, this basically just tacks the word 'liquor' onto that other law, too—but still!)

The text of the bill, which was introduced in the state legislature in February, said that it would "help New York dairy farmers, liquor and craft beverage producers, dairy processors and manufacturers, and food retailers and restaurants" meet the demand for booze-infused treats.

It also limits the hard ice cream to no more than 5% of alcohol by volume (ABV), and it cannot be sold to anyone under 21, of course. The packaging has to be labeled with the same warning statements as other alcohol-infused products. (Like "consumption of alcohol impairs your ability to drive a car or operate machinery," that kind of thing.)

According to Syracuse.com, a Chenango County restaurant—one that's known for its ice cream—might be ready to serve its first legal scoops this weekend. The owners of Gilligan's Ice Cream were instrumental in the effort to legalize beer and hard cider ice creams in the state, and they reached out to their legislators again about getting liquor added to that list. “The flavor possibilities with hard liquor and mixed cocktails are endless,” Andy Lagoe, a co-owner of Gilligan's, told the outlet. “The ice cream takes a little of the heat out of the liquor, but it really adds to the flavor.”

If alcohol-infused ice cream sounds familiar, it could be because of Tipsy Scoop. The New York City company launched its line of boozy ice cream pints in 2014, and then opened its first retail location three years later. (It now has three 'barlours' in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and at Citi Field in Queens, as well as three more in Nevada, South Carolina, and Texas.)

Tipsy Scoop's founder, Melissa Tavvs, said that it had to get OK'ed by state and federal officials right at the beginning. "We received approval from New York State and the [Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau] declaring our products as a non-beverage for manufacture and distribution of our liquor-infused ice creams several years ago when our business started," she told Food & Wine in an email. And, like other newly minted producers, Tipsy Scoop's products can't exceed 5% ABV.

"New Yorkers are already able to responsibly enjoy beer, wine, and cider infused ice creams. Thanks to this bill, vendors will now be able to offer their customers another delicious treat," Senator Rachel May said earlier this week. "I am very grateful to the Governor for signing this into law, and I look forward to sharing some maple bourbon ice cream with him at next year's State Fair!"

Next year? There's no way we're waiting that long for a liquor-infused scoop.

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