America loves ice cream, so it’s no surprise makers around the country are finding new ways to get their beloved sweet treat into the hands of their customers, even if they happen to live 3,000 miles away. Local flavors and ingredients shine through in unique ways from place to place and we are supremely fortunate in this day and age to have them delivered to us at the click of a button. From a caramel ice cream studded with gems of Kentucky spiced jam cake to a mint chip made with local Oregon mint, these American artisans are satisfying sweet teeth everywhere thanks to our modern mail system (and lots and lots of dry ice).
That’s why, in a week-long flurry of tummy aches and sugar highs, the SAVEUR staff tasted our way through dozens of pints of certified frozen goodness from retailers all across the country. Somehow, amidst the inevitable brain freeze and increasingly sticky keyboards, we settled on these five as our favorites for the summer.
Capannari ice cream is the joint-effort of two familes: Jim and Meg Capannari and Ken and Katie Dix. Together, they’ve been making small-batch ice cream since 2001 at their scoop shop in Mt. Prospect, Illinois. For them, quality comes from premium ingredients and blending only 4 gallons at a time. Classic flavors like java chip, rocky road, and butter pecan are supremely satisfying standbys, but our staffers went crazy over the sweet-and-spicy Habanero Hot Chocolate. $100 for 6 pints, including shipping
McConnell’s Ice Cream is made in Santa Barbara, CA by husband and wife duo Eva Ein and Michael Palmer. They have a whole slew of great flavors—two of my favorites are Sea Salt Cream & Cookies and their Double Peanut Butter Chip—but the most striking, I’d argue, is their sweet cream. Ein, a chef, doesn’t like her ice cream too sweet, and this flavor is all about simplicity: little sugar, no vanilla, and cream from McConnell’s own dairy. It’s just the thing for an ice cream sandwich, or a tricked-out sunday, or a few spoonfuls that will remind you what ice cream is really supposed to taste like. And it will make you rethink that super-fudge chunk you keep buying. $10 per pint, 4 pint minimum
Partners Roy and Tim Koons-McGee started The Comfy Cow as a small ice cream experience in Louisville, Kentucky, where they now have seven locations throughout the city. Their ice creams range from riffs on classics like Georgia Butter Pecan and Minty Chocolate Chippy (using organic mint leaves and Barry Callebaut chocolate) to exquisitely Southern-inspired favorites like Kentucky Spiced Jam Cake (pictured) and Bourbon Ball, featuring homemade candies enveloped in Old Forester bourbon ice cream. Even their richly understated chocolate swept us off our feet. $9.50 per pint, 6 pint minimum
From Mitchell’s to Humphry Slocombe to Strauss to Bi-Rite Creamery, San Francisco has no shortage of incredible ice creams. That being said, while living in the Bay, I was never able to pass a pint of Three Twins Dad’s Cardamom in the grocery store without it ending up in my hands, and then later in my freezer, and then later in one of my tiny glass bowls. Though I love a rich ice cream, what makes Three Twins so great is that it’s not too sweet and not too rich—the perfect combination to allow you to eat too much of it. $60 for 6 pints