Food & Drink

Boozy Dippin’ Dots Are Next-Level Spiked Ice Cream

Courtesy of Hidden Harbor

First there was ice cream, then there was Dippin’ Dots (Ice Cream of the Future!), then there was boozy ice cream, and now there’s boozy Dippin’ Dots. Our adults minds are fully blown.

The boozy frozen dots come courtesy of Hidden Harbor tiki bar in Pittsburgh, where the bar team has transformed the familiar creamy, coconutty flavors of a classic Painkiller into a molecular feat (and treat).

The bar has been using liquid nitrogen since day one to freeze herbs in a technique developed by Dave Arnold at the dearly departed Booker and Dax, but, as owner Adam Henry explains, “When you’ve got a tank of liquid nitrogen, you’re constantly scheming about what else you can do with it.” And so, after a bit of trial and error, the frozen Painkiller Dippin’ Dots came to be.

“We chose the Painkiller because it seemed that its flavors would lend themselves well to a creamy, frozen dessert,” Henry says. “You’ve got coconut cream in there, and of course a lot of fruit juice—orange and pineapple and we also use lime in ours.” While the team scaled back the booze a tad to help the dots keep their shape at room temp, the rest of the classic proportions remain intact.

Courtesy of Hidden Harbor

While some bartenders might be satisfied to set a tub of boozy Dippin’ Dots in front of a customer and call it a day, Henry isn’t one of them. “My feel on molecular cocktails is there can be all sorts of manipulations of texture—gelatins and spheres and things like that—but fundamentally, I think people want to actually drink a cocktail,” he says. So he gives guests a drinkable, classic version of the cocktail garnished with a hollowed out lime hull filled with the Painkiller Dippin’ Dots—complete with a tiny spoon.

“That, to me, is the whole point of molecular cocktails,” Henry says. “It’s not gimmicky, it’s not ‘look at me.’ It’s to use these instruments of science to manipulate and transform textures and create unexpected and surprising and delightful ways to enjoy what would otherwise be familiar.”