How Much Liquor?
For weaker spirits, like wine, the problem isn’t the added alcohol as much as the added water. You can reduce a portion of the wine with heat, but not most of it; heat will kill the aromatic flavors. I find it best to replace a portion of the milk with the wine—then add a commensurate amount of nonfat dry milk, to make up for the lost solids.
Ultra boozy ice cream is becoming a trend, with companies like Tipsy Scoop churning out 5% alcohol concoctions. When you get into this range, it’s more about a sweet frozen cocktail than about a liquor-flavored ice cream. Getting you buzzed takes a higher priority than texture or flavor. And you have to start carding people. If you want to head in this direction, just follow the instruction here, but take everything farther.
For example, with cognac, I use an affordable VSOP grade that I’d be happy to drink, but that I wouldn’t be tempted to ruminate over with my pompous friends. I like Gosling’s rum—bold, full-flavored, if not the most complex. Save the really good / delicate stuff for drinking straight.
Summary of basic compensations:
A Guide for Wine Ice Creams (this is a work in progress)
If you experiment with this template, please let me know how it goes.
Thoughts on Cocktail Flavors
Generally, cocktails that are already sweet (anything from variations on the Old Fashioned to Tiki drinks) will work better than dry cocktails. I don’t see much potential for Martini ice cream (but maybe as a sorbet …)
Obviously, leave out the simple syrup. And avoid vodka cocktails (see above. And they’re not real cocktails).
Go to good cocktail bars. Figure out what the mixologists are doing. The best of these guys are essentially chefs. Notice how they layer and balance the flavors. Notice how in some cases all the individual flavors remain identifiable; in other cases, an entirely new flavor is created by the combinations. Try to figure out what’s going on. Look at the structure of classic cocktails (and the often similar modern ones). Try to accomplish the same effects in the flavors you create.
Sample Recipe (single spirit)
-harden for several hours (preferably overnight) in a cold freezer. freezer should be set to -5°F / -20°C or lower. Ice cream will have to warm up several degrees before serving. 20 to 30 minutes in the fridge works well. Ideal serving temperature is 6 to 10° F / -14 to -12°C.
Sample Recipe 2 (cocktail)
The Bourbon Smash is one of my favorite summer cocktails. It would be one of my favorite winter cocktails, too, but it can be hard to find fresh mint outside the summer months. I just made a batch of this from the last surviving mint from my garden, which wasn’t in the best shape (there’s an inch of snow on the ground, and the leaves are mostly turning black). Can you come up with a better version for winter? How about less citrus, and replacing the mint with cardamom or cloves?
This recipe illustrates a few techniques beyond the basics: zesting a lemon and incorporating zest with the dry ingredients (hint: a fine Microplane is probably the most efficient tool for this); incorporating fresh citrus juice (strain, and add after the cream and eggs have been incorporated, to keep the milk proteins from curdling); and herbal infusion (done at low temperature—important with mint, to protect its delicate flavor) and the addition of essential oil, to compensate for the difficulty of infusing mint’s full flavor.
[edited 6-2018. Reduced mint essential oil from 0.5g to 0.1g. For reasons that will be obvious to anyone who tries it either way]
340g whole milk (3.3% fat)*
12g invert syrup
85g granulated sugar
55g nonfat dry milk*
4g (aprox.) lemon zest (from 1 small lemon)
0.8g locust bean gum. increase to 1.0g if you get icy textures (tested with TIC Gums POR/A, soluble at 74°C)
0.4g guar gum
0.2g lambda carrageenan
2 large egg yolks (36g)
360g heavy cream (36% fat)*
24g (aprox) lemon juice (from 1 small lemon)
65g bourbon (43% alcohol = 28g)
2g Angostura bitters
12g very fresh mint leaves
*Use the best quality milk and cream you can get. Avoid anything ultrapasteurized. Low-temperature pasteurized is ideal. Homogenized products will give best texture. Avoid cream with added stabilizer (unknown variables). Dry milk should be 100% skim milk solids, processed without high heat. There should be no off odors either when it’s dry or when it’s mixed. Store sealed in freezer.
Next post: introduction to Flavor