When Making Ice Cream Cocktails, Not All Flavors Yield Tasty Results

News flash: Your after-dinner cocktail can also be your dessert. All it takes is a scoop of ice cream to elevate a boring traditional digestif to noteworthy and delicious. (Yes, really.) Ice cream cocktails are the ultimate grown-up root beer float, a fusion of nostalgia and playfulness. Plus, in a more esoteric way, the concept of the ice cream cocktail is something of a progressive stride in demolishing the inherent elitism so firmly suctioned to the mixology industry as a whole. But, we digress.

At the end of the day, ice cream cocktails are really just a lot of fun. It's all about finding a flavor combination that works and steering clear of candy-like ice cream flavors such as bubblegum or birthday cake. When paired with punchy booze, the resulting profile can be sickeningly sweet, or else the more nuanced flavor notes of the spirit get overpowered and lost. Keep in mind, too, that if you choose an ice cream flavor with a lot of little solid bits in it, like Rocky Road or a peanut butter cup, these are going to end up in your cocktail and require some chewing. For best results, stick to an ice cream with minimal mix-ins.

For a milkshake-like treat, vigorously stir your ice cream and booze together with a long-handled spoon, or even use a cocktail shaker. For a spoon-able dessert, simply pour a slug of your desired liquor over your ice cream. (Just be sure to chill the glass first.)

We all scream for complementary flavor pairings

Darker spirits like bourbon, whiskey, cognac, and rum tend to work especially well with ice cream, as they naturally tote a sweet richness. You could add butterscotch ice cream to a rocks glass of whiskey or scoop some coconut ice cream into Malibu rum.

By no means does this mean that dark spirits are the only ones you can use in your ice cream cocktail; mixologists just might have to be a little more calculating with their flavor combos when picking an ice cream to complement lighter spirits and their less versatile profiles. Pair botanical gin with pistachio ice cream or cherry vanilla ice cream with light rum. Peach or green tea ice cream would pair well with mezcal or tequila.

Who said this ice-cream-booze combo only works with straight-up liquor? For a playful, luxurious treat, try adding a scoop of ice cream to your favorite cocktails. Butter pecan ice cream would work great in a spiced Chimayó. You could scoop French vanilla into an old fashioned, or add coffee ice cream to a White Russian. Give a strawberry ice cream Cosmopolitan a whirl. For a banana-split-inspired treat, pop some chocolate ice cream into a frozen banana daiquiri. (Bonus points if you garnish with a maraschino cherry.) In Wisconsin, where the ice cream cocktail is rumored to have originated, minty Grasshoppers are customarily made with ice cream rather than heavy cream.