Imagine diving into a bowl of your favorite chocolate-chunk ice cream with a side of bourbon on the rocks.
Now picture a couple of pours of bourbon infused straight into the ice cream, with every bite richer than the last. That’s what Tyler Malek, cofounder of the Portland, Oregon-based ice-cream shop Salt & Straw, will bring to this year’s South Beach Wine & Food Festival.
Malek will host the festival’s inaugural boozy ice-cream-making event –– Spike Your Ice: Ice Cream-Making and Spirits Master Class –– where Salt & Straw’s most popular flavors will be reimagined with the addition of bourbon, whiskey, and Scotch. Malek will be joined by Miami mixologist Gabe Urrutia, author of Miami Cocktails: An Elegant Collection of Over 100 Recipes Inspired by the Magic City and named in Wine Enthusiast’s "Top 40 Under 40 Tastemakers of 2019."
“I’m honestly so excited to be in Miami and see how chefs are experimenting and pushing innovation,” Malek says. “I strongly believe Miami should be considered the top food city in America, and I'm honored to be able to join those ranks and learn about what makes this city unique.”
Mixing alcohol into ice cream is nothing new for the Salt & Straw founder, though. Malek is a believer in the power and flavor behind incorporating various spirits into ice cream.
“Alcohol has a really unique way of trapping, extracting, and infusing flavors, which is great for ice cream,” he says. “A key example of that is vanilla extract; one of the most ubiquitous ice-cream ingredients is really just an intense form of amaro.
“The fat in ice cream has a unique way of carrying flavors and holding them to your palate,” he adds. “When we're working with delicate, rare ingredients like a single-barrel malt whiskey, allowing the fat to be the vehicle for that whiskey to reach your taste buds significantly amplifies the experience.”
Beyond pairing and infusing ice cream with alcohol, the rest of the event will be a surprise to guests. All Malek will say is there will be five cocktail-and-ice-cream concoctions involving equal parts cooking, learning, and tasting.
“I love the alcohol-and-ice-cream trend,” he says. “For me, it blends the art of handcrafted ice cream with the science of mixology. The creation of boozy ice cream relies on top spirits to spark creativity and create a dynamic flavor experience.”
Malek has built an empire off his unique flavor creations, including ice-cream varieties such as foie gras and sea urchin. And now, as he gears up to open South Florida’s first two Salt & Straw locations –– in Coconut Grove and Wynwood –– this spring, he’s using SOBEWFF as a way to embrace what’s to come for the brand.
“Our goal is to identify and partner with the city’s most beloved artisans, ranging from bakers and chocolate makers to artists and nonprofits. Then we understand the flavors, ingredients, techniques, and heritage that make those individual partners unique. From there, we envision how we would showcase them on the menu, creating ice cream that's as captivating as it is provocative.”
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For example, Malek is working on a beer-infused ice cream with Wynwood Brewing Company’s Laces IPA. Over the past year, he has tested several iterations of the forthcoming beer ice cream and gone back and forth with Wynwood Brewing’s brewers to figure out how to create a flavor that pays tribute to the brew.
“Our creation process has been very unique and needed a huge amount of input and support from the brewers at Wynwood Brewing,” he explains. “Beer actually isn't quite concentrated enough to stand up to ice cream's high fat content, so the development process involves figuring out how to deconstruct the flavor and put it back together in sweet, creamy form so the brewer's original creation is accurately reflected in each scoop.”
“We want to create flavors that truly reflect Miami and embrace the community here,” he adds. “To me, our most popular and successful ice creams are often the ones that are thought-provoking — when we're intentional about the flavors, ingredients, and vision that evolves.”
Spike Your Ice: Ice Cream-Making and Spirits Master Class, hosted by Salt & Straw and Gabe Urrutia. 1 to 2:30 p.m. Sunday, February 23, at SGWS Wynwood, 2105 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Tickets cost $95 via sobewff.org/salt.