Thought the New York City Craft Beer Festival is only about beer? Think again. While walking booth to booth sampling delicious alcoholic treats during last weekend's Autumn Harvest beer fest at Manhattan's Lexington Armory, I was delighted to discover a beautiful world beyond your traditional stouts and ciders. And that world, my friends, is called booze-infused ice cream.
How did I discover this effervescent land of sweet creamy magic and libatious merriment? And is this, in fact, utopia? Yes, and let me tell you how I found it. While chatting with the lady vendors of the craft beer fest, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that not only do women outnumber men at most craft beer fests, we're also infiltrating the industry from all angles, from the breweries to the blogosphere to small businesses. Hoping to continue the insightful interviews and looking to assuage premature inebriation, I began skirting the arena's perimeter in search of some solid treats to soak up all those delicious hops. And that's when I met Melissa Tavss, founder and CEO of Tipsy Scoop, the two-woman ice cream company whose mission is to blend the magic of artisanal ice cream with the mastery of a perfectly mixed cocktail (or craft beer). That's right. Booze-infused ice cream is a thing, and it's glorious.
Scanning the fall flavors Tipsy Scoop had to offer and vacillating between the Cinnamon Hard Cider and Dark Whiskey Salted Caramel, I decided to follow my spirit guide and go with the Cinnamon. That first heavenly bite triggered one word and word only: more. I wanted more ice cream, more booze, and I had to know more about this lady and the inspiration behind her ingenious idea. After inhaling my adult ice cream treat in 20 seconds flat, I asked, and Melissa gracefully answered:
What inspired you to create liquor-infused ice cream?
I was working at a marketing agency that worked on events for several different wine and spirits clients. I was constantly asking caterers to infuse foods with the liquors that we worked with, and I always loved ice cream, so I started experimenting myself with my friend Caroline, and that's kind of how we started. Our ice creams are 5 percent alcohol by volume, so they actually have an alcohol content, they are not just flavored with liquor.
What was the biggest challenge in starting your own business? And the biggest reward?
The biggest challenge has been organizing and splitting a ton of work between only two people. When you start a business, you have to do everything on your own before you get big enough to hire people, so we do everything. Make all the ice cream, transport it to different events, and serve it — then do all the marketing, sales, accounting, and all that fun stuff. The biggest reward is definitely when someone just loves the product. At an expo we did the other day, people were throwing out their 16 Handles to have more Tipsy Scoop instead! So that was pretty cool.
What advice do you have for a 20-something woman looking to start her own business?
I would say be sure the business is something you are passionate about and will continue to be passionate about. And make sure you hire the right people you can trust who can really help you grow your business. Also, don't give up after the first mistake. Every day is different, and some days are better than others.
What does success mean to you?
Success would mean Tipsy Scoop kitchens in major cities all over the country!
Your great grandfather became the president of the Ice Cream Alliance of Great Britain. If he saw you today, what do you think he would say?
Hopefully he would be proud and want to try some boozy ice cream!
What's the best Tipsy Scoop flavor to bring to a Thanksgiving feast? And the best holiday gift?
We have a Tipsy Scoop Thanksgiving boozy ice cream pack that includes four boozy pints: Bourbon Pecan Pie, Kahlua Pumpkin Spice, Chocolate Mousse Martini, and Spiked Berry Cobbler Sorbet. You can order at TipsyScoop.com for hand delivery in New York City or two day/overnight shipping within the U.S. (all orders packed with dry ice).
Thanks to Melissa, I can now cross "booze" and "dessert" off my Thanksgiving shopping checklist. Boozy ice cream pints all around! As for that upcoming holiday office party, what better way to spread cheer and female empowerment than with an in-house Tipsy Scoop ice cream cart and personal mixologist? Well done ladypreneur, we'll most definitely be back for more.