Melissa Tavss comes from a long line of ice cream and gelato makers. Back in the 1800s her family brought over some of the first gelato carts from Italy to Scotland. Initially starting out in fashion PR, a love of food and beverage soon saw her doing marketing for clients like Jack Daniels and Chambord. After enrolling at NYU for grad school, Melissa started Tipsy Scoop as a side hobby, which quickly turned into a fully fledged wholesale business. Launching with no culinary training whatsoever, Melissa now sells her ice cream in Whole Foods stores throughout New York and earlier this year opened the first Tipsy Scoop barlour on 26th street. Thanks to some smart viral marketing, they literally had lines around the block in their first few weeks.
We caught up with Melissa to get the scoop on ice cream and why adding alcohol makes it just so darn delicious!
Knob Creek Boozy Brunch Sundae: Cinnamon Roll ‘cone’ bowl topped with two scoops of Maple Bacon bourbon ice cream infused with Knob Creek Bourbon Garnished with candied bacon and homemade bourbon caramel glaze
Frosé All Day!: Notorious Pink Rosé sorbet topped with peach gummies, cherries and candied rose petals
What inspired you to combine alcohol with ice cream?
I was always inspired to perfect my homemade ice cream recipe which, if you’ve ever made it at home, you’ll know that it’s really hard to make. Even with a Cuisinart ice cream machine you always get that icy stuff around the surface of the ice cream, so to counteract it I was adding a little bit of alcohol in the beginning to soften the ice cream and to make it less icy.
That’s really cool. How has this concept been received by New Yorkers?
New York really is one of the best audiences for this because it’s such a foodie city. Not only that but people are very into new cocktails, new food and hybrids of the two. It really is the best place to be for something new and innovative.
What are some of your favorite flavors that you’ve been working with?
I’m going to have you try the frozé sundae which is a summer special based off of frozen rosé. It’s a peach-based frozé so it’s two scoops of frozé in a pink cone bowl with peach gummies and cherries and candied rose petals. We started it for the summer and it was so popular that we just decided to keep going.
What’s your favorite cocktail?
Definitely an Aperol spritz! I drink them year round. We actually had an Aperol spritz inspired sundae this summer too. We made an Aperol and prosecco sorbet and topped it off with an orange creamsicle prosecco ice cream sandwich.
I love Aperol spritzs!
I know, you can have so many of them!
You run a wholesale component of your business also. Where can we find Tipsy Scoop in Brooklyn?
We’re in all the New York City Whole Foods stores and on Long Island. Also Brooklyn Harvest market. In Williamsburg you’re lucky because there are lots of specialty food stores that we are in. We also do a lot of catering and events still.
Do you have plans to expand to other brick and mortar spaces?
Brick and mortar was not in my business plan at all. We had several videos about Tipsy Scoop go viral on Facebook in 2016. People were finding our production facility up in East Harlem and coming there looking to buy a scoop of ice cream. We realized that we needed to make it at least a little easier for people to get to so that’s why we decided to open a 300 square foot space. The response has been overwhelming!
Who do you think in New York is doing really innovative things with desserts and alcohol?
I think there’s a lot of cool desserts still going on. I’m good friends with the Cookie DŌ girl and I’m always inspired by everything she’s doing. There is a lot of innovative concepts with these bars like Watermark Bar who make crazy mermaid cocktails all the time and oversized Moscow Mules. I think people are having fun doing silly cool things all the time.
What do you think is really exciting about the New York hospitality industry at the moment?
The fusion between food and alcohol is something that I’m very interested in. I think a lot of chefs are now using alcohol as an ingredient more than just something to get you buzzed or drunk. We’re seeing a lot more low alcohol cocktails because people are really focusing on the taste of the cocktail versus getting messed up. It’s really nice to see more of an appreciation of the taste of all these different wines and spirits.