Part #2 of Our 2018 Food & Beverage Forecast.
Tuesday, 26th September 2017

Getting sloshed on a slushie: they're putting bourbon in our ice cream and ice cream in our donuts and sundaes in churros bowls and cotton candy on your kids clothes.


Increasing numbers of restaurants will be boozing up their desserts and ice creams. Perhaps they're chasing after the huge cohort of style-conscious Millennials in search of thrills or seeking to drown their angst.

That's why you might be carded at Disney Springs' Amorette's Patisserie where they're serving red wine slushies flavored with strawberries. Sounds like a frozen sangria ... and what kid wouldn't want a taste of that, daddy?

Over in Duluth, Georgia, Suga and Ice has people queuing for its booze-infused ice creams ... like bananas Foster and strawberries and champagne. They're also stuffing warm donuts with ice cream for those in need of caloric overload (see more about this below).

In New York there's Tipsy Scoop, hand-dipping cones of dark chocolate whiskey, maple pecan bourbon, and cake batter vodka martini. While Suga and Ice's products contain one to two percent alcohol, Tipsy Scoops stays truer to its name, with some products topping out at 5% ABV ... about the same as your standard beer (see right). Lantern, a Williamsburg beer hall, collaborated this past summer with Tipsy Scoop to make beer-infused ice creams for those customers who couldn't choose between sipping and licking.

Aldi in Britain is selling gin-and-tonic popsicles containing with about 11% booze ... with more gin-infused products in the offing. Cindy's atop the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel sells boozy popsicles, as does the La Carnita chain in Toronto with its tequila sunrise popsicle.

And Haagen-Dazs recently launched boozed-up ice cream pints ... vodka key lime, whisky chocolate truffle ... but only in Canada.

The biggest indicator that this is a trend ... and more than a seasonal one ... is Taco Bell opening dozens upon dozens of "cantinas" around the country serving spiked slushies of the sort you find in New Orleans tourist bars. Most will be located in urban areas (50 in New York) on the premise that city dwellers don't drive ... and they're ditching drive-thru service, so sloshed or not you'll have to make it home standing up. Slush machines will dispense flavors of margarita, piña colada, lemonade and they like can be goosed up with tequila, rum, vodka or whiskey.

Which makes us wonder ... could Taco Bell be making a move on places like Rocco's Tacos and Bar Taco ... two successfully growing taco bar chains with entry level pricing about the same as Taco Bell's? Or might Chipotle add real standup bars? Could be better than grainy queso.

See also our analysis of wild desserts from Southeast Asia.


Trendy donuts once had their own reason for being ... but now they're being downgraded to mere vehicles for transporting ice cream to your belly.

In LA you literally can get an ice cream donut sandwich ... for at the B Sweet Dessert Bar you choose a donut and then an ice cream flavor and they'll neatly heat-seal the combo to order, making it easy to eat ... so you get hot and cold along with sweet and sweet.

(One wonders how long it'll take for a pressed-and-sealed ham and cheese donut to make an appearance. Seems irresistible to us.)

Stuffed Ice Cream in New York's East Village has something similar. Holey Donuts in New York (right) is at the other end of the sloppiness spectrum, with stuffed donuts served in takeaway containers to catch the ooze and drippings.

Koolhouse, in California and Texas, has brown butter maple ice cream with a center of candied chicken skins and caramelized waffles ... which tells you that extremism in desserts is a virtuous trend.

Some demented chef has already trumped Koolhouse's fusion monster ... a vendor at last summer's San Diego County Fair sold fried chicken pieces sandwiched in a Krispy Kreme donut along with vanilla ice cream and fruity pebbles.


Forget about your notion that churros come in stick form. Now they're being repurposed as bowls for ice cream. On the east coast, El Rio Grande is whipping up rainbow-colored churros piped into bowl shapes and deep fried. They're piled ... in the style of freakshakes ... with gummy-fruity-tooth gripping-sprinkley thingees atop a buried ball of ice cream that by this point probably is irrelevant (photo, right).

On the west coast, Nitrolado piles trend on trend on trend on trend with their Smoking Churro Ice Cream Bowl. They fill a cup with nitro gelati whose flavors by themselves are pretty out there ... honey-jasmine, Thai iced tea and luridly purple ube ... and then they (see video) top the cup with a selection of equally lurid churros ... while vapors pour out around the edges. Spectacular! Meanwhile, from San Francisco to Sydney to Toronto they're turning out ice cream cones made of churros. Mario Batali was selling ice cream sandwiches made of churros at La Sirena this summer, as does Broddos, a Mexican outfit in London.


Anything rainbow or unicorn may make it half-way through 2018

Nitro desserts

Cookie dough (better watch the current "I got sick" lawsuit)

Cotton candy over cake, ice cream and your new suit

Inventive grab-and-go desserts and pick-me-ups (see above)

Bubble cones

Freakshakes will carry on until we're exhausted

Indian-inflected ice creams

Dessert sliders

Soft serve in upscale restaurants

Baked goods in jars

Avocado in desserts

Churros-and-chocolate startups; maybe even for upscale restaurant desserts

Perpetual knockoffs of Dominique Ansel's creations ... like his "what-a-melon" soft serve, a hit in Japan (see photo, below)

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