Taste-Test

We tried rum ball and absinthe ice creams

Jeni's Ice Cream Trimph and Rum Ball flavors
Kristin Hunt

Those of you who benefited from the healing powers of Influenza Sorbet last winter already know and love Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams. But for the rest of you, here's all you gotta know. One: it's a delightfully loony gourmet ice cream biz with shops in Ohio, Tennessee, Illinois, Georgia, and South Carolina, as well as a national online store. Two: Jeni is a James Beard Award-winning culinary whiz who's basically the female Wonka of our time. Three: they've got a new set of limited-edition holiday "Ice Creams for the Table" available now.

The pack includes Rum Ball, Lemon Buttermilk Tart Frozen Yogurt, Cranberry Parfait Buttermilk Frozen Yogurt, and Triumph pints along with a Snowy Coconut Ice Cream Sandwich. And while you should try them all at your earliest convenience, we decided to focus on the two boozy picks, Rum Ball and Triumph (it's absinthe-flavored!), for obvious scientific reasons. Will you end up on the floor after one scoop, or barely taste the liquor? Only one way to find out...

Jeni's Ice Cream Rum Ball
Kristin Hunt

Rum Ball

This guy is reminiscent of a classic brownie batter pint -- there're homemade cake bites scattered throughout the sea of chocolate ice cream, and, as with any decent brownie batter scoop, they're the best part. But Jeni's was not kidding about the "rum" part. Both the cake pieces and the actual ice cream are spiked with booze, and while it wasn't especially pronounced in the cake, it was very apparent in the ice cream. Rum and I have never really gotten along, so I was pretty much targeting the cake to serve as a chaser, but if you order Dark 'n Stormys like they're going out of style, you'll definitely like this pint.
 

Jeni's Ice Cream Triumph
Kristin Hunt

Triumph

Named for the cocktail (you can read more about that here), this second spiked option has "hand-piped meringue kisses" and crushed orange candy. Oh, and a healthy dose of absinthe. As you probably know, absinthe is an anise-flavored liquor, so the first taste is like being on the receiving end of a licorice cannon. (Better or worse idea than the Cheeto cannon?) It settles down as you continue onwards to the crushed orange candy, which is quite refreshing, but sometimes hard to chew. If you find chocolate ice cream -- particularly the kind with cake and rum -- too rich, this is a pretty nice alternative. Just don't get any bright ideas and mix this with the Rum Ball. It will be confusing, and potent, and make you wonder why anyone pays you to do anything, much less review ice cream.
 

The verdict

The holidays are a big, boozy occasion, and these ice creams certainly carry on that tradition. Your stuffy relatives who can barely stomach a glass of Merlot will hate them, but for the rollicking "kids' table" (i.e. you and your grown-up cousins), these could be just the ticket. Please scoop responsibly.

Kristin Hunt is a Food/Drink staff writer for Thrillist, and wonders how long it'll be before someone makes "Christmas ham" ice cream. Follow her at @kristin_hunt.