"Every good ice cream should have at least two ounces of booze in it," says Timothy Croghan. It's hard to argue with the chef at Northwest Glisan Street's Pope House Bourbon Lounge, especially after he serves up two scoops of his Apple Piescream (baked apple pieces in cinnamon-nutmeg ice cream, with Clear Creek pear brandy) and the Hog's Bollocks (molasses bacon praline ice cream with a third of a cup of Kahlúa).
"I like booze and I like ice cream," he says, "and I was messing around with it, and I realized the more alcohol I put in it, the velvetier it became. It lowers the freezing point so it gets a better mouthfeel, and it helps prevent ice crystallization."
It doesn't get you drunk, though—the alcohol is mostly boiled out of the custard before freezing. But the taste of spirits remains, especially in the Bourbon Chocolate Grand Marnier, which "has over a cup of booze in it, so it comes out really, really velvety," Croghan says. "You get a definite kick in the mouth. Kids, they can't be having that one."
Croghan's eight flavors, served on rotation for $4 each, include Dynamite, a chocolate-chipotle with pepper-infused vodka, and the Professional, which tastes of stout and espresso. As he prepares to open his own cart, TNT Ice Cream, this summer at farmers markets, Croghan is experimenting with new flavors—including a habanero-vanilla called Sarah Connor on Fire.
A 30-year-old cyclist with a bushy red beard and a Charles Bukowski quote tattooed down his left arm, Croghan started cooking as a child on his grandfather's shrimp boats in the Gulf of Mexico and did stints as a cook on fishing vessels in the Bering Sea ("lucrative, but grueling"). But the first time he tried making ice cream was this May, on the same day he found out two of his best friends had been murdered in New Orleans. "I found out at work," he says. "I couldn't keep any [food] down. The only thing I could keep down was ice cream." He went out and bought ice cream ingredients that day. "It left me kind of tangled up inside," he says, "so I take solace in ice cream and the smiles it provides."
Pope House Bourbon Lounge, 2075 NW Glisan St., popehouselounge.com. 4 pm-midnight Tuesday-Thursday and Sunday. 4 pm-1 am Friday-Saturday.