In a world where culinary trends come and go like so many rumaki on an enamel platter, one can truly appreciate the inevitable collision of food and alcohol in one perfect serving. Consider, for instance, the classic Jell-O shot, or this season’s wildly inventive array of booze-spiked popsicles. An entirely new option has recently entered this multitasking arena, something everyone from hipsters to grandmas can enjoy: 20-percent alcohol-infused whipped cream. Your Jell-O shot just found its garnish.
The concept of alcohol-infused whipped cream is not an original one, the French have a centuries-old tradition of adding bourbon, rum or Grand Marnier during the whipping process to top desserts or coffee, but a tablespoon of liquor in a cup of heavy cream is a drop in the proverbial bucket compared to the potent canned creations hitting the market today.
One product, Whipped Lightning, is only available in 15 states, but can be mail-ordered. Whipahol, the company that developed and manufactures it, began with Atlanta chef Tyler Moore’s famous shortcakes with amaretto whipped cream. His patrons enjoyed the topping so much, Moore brought the recipe to co-worker and friend Paul Urbanowicz to see if they could develop a product out of it.
“A thousand people have ‘discovered’ alcoholic whipped cream, but we make it higher proof and put it in cans,” says Urbanowicz, now CEO and Chief Whipologist at Whipahol. “And because our product is so unique, I thought it was important that we control the whole process, from flavor development to graphic design.”
With nine flavors in production and more to come, any sugar thrill-seeker would find a can to suit their needs from livening up a cappuccino to embellishing an elaborate dessert, or even creating your own “drink-sert.”
“I believe you need a lot of variety to keep people interested,” Urbanowicz says, “It’s a challenge, but because we own our own facility we can come up with more flavors. This fall we’re releasing a pumpkin pie flavor, strawberry colada sold really well this summer and we have some new flavors we’re testing I think will be hits. I’m glad that people are out there having fun with it.”
Pretty soon everyone wants one
Andy Kim, a bartender in Brooklyn, uses alcohol-infused whipped cream to create signature shots for special events at his bar in the ever-evolving food and beverage haven of Williamsburg. One of his creations, the Muddy Dog, is made with Kahlua, vodka and cream topped with his own recipe for chocolate whipped cream.
“I just love the look on peoples’ faces when I whip out the can and spray what is essentially another shot of alcohol on top of their shot of alcohol. It’s like a party trick, but you’re just squeezing a CO2 charger,” he says. “And pretty soon, everyone in the bar wants one.”
New York City resident and strict cocktail hour-enforcer Kaitlyn Thornton sampled several flavors and brands.
“You can definitely taste the booze,” she says. “It tastes like Irish coffee, I mean it’s delicious and I think the alcohol gives it a nice, rich consistency. If you made an Irish coffee I don’t see why you wouldn’t garnish it with this. Taking a big bite is kind of like having a shot stuck in your mouth, though.”
Not for the Pleasantville ice cream social, strong alcoholic whipped cream is quickly becoming more popular in the world of creative garnishes and promises to be a mainstay as food enthusiasts find more ways to unleash its mighty deliciousness.
“I like that it’s strong,” adds Thornton. “I feel like in a few years it’s going to be in every bar.”
Chocolate-Coffee Cognac Whipped Cream
Mix all ingredients well and pour into canister.
Insert a CO2 charger, shake vigorously for 10 seconds, chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes and dispense as necessary.
Jess Kapadia is a food writer in New York.