The scoop on Splendora’s limited-time, booze-inspired flavors
I scream, you scream, we all scream for…pumpkin beer-flavored gelato? Splendora’s Gelato Cafe owner PK Ross never gets tired of experimenting with flavors (anybody remember the ghost pepper-honey-raspberry concoction?) and after weeks of doing diligent research around town she’ll be serving up scoops of beer- and cocktail-inspired gelato.
With fall just around the corner it’s no surprise that the beer options are of the ever-popular pumpkin variety, and she’s been playing around with several brews, including Starr Hill’s Boxcarr Pumpkin Porter, the Twisted Gourd from South Street and Southern Tier’s deep, heavy Warlock Imperial Stout. Ross says she expects to roll out three or four different pumpkin beer gelatos, but deciding which cocktails to mimic has been a little more challenging.
“Even though beer can surprise me, the brewer is still doing all the hard work, and I’m just picking and choosing the things that work well in cream,” Ross says.
Creating a cocktail-inspired frozen dessert, though, requires a little more ingenuity—it’s not as easy as simply making a cocktail, mixing it with cream and sugar and calling it dessert. Ross says she constantly plays around with different liquors and other ingredients, subbing things in to mimic the layered flavors of the cocktail like raisins in place of vermouth.
Definitely on the menu will be a gelato inspired by a popular cocktail from The Alley Light, which is made with crema de mezcal, citrus and hot chili tincture. It’s called the Smokey Dokey and it’s no joke(y) —the liqueur and grapefruit are intense and right upfront, there’s an unexpected bitterness that Ross says is from gentian root, and the ghost chili simple syrup hits you with a back-of-the-throat spice. Ross says the cocktail itself calls for habanero, but she’s found that ghost chilis do better in cream.
The plan is to add more cocktail-inspired gelatos to the September lineup. Ross wasn’t thrilled with the results of her experimentation with negroni ingredients, so other options may include something rum-based like a dark ‘n’ stormy (if she can find fresh ginger), or a mint julep or Manhattan for the bourbon-lovers.
Now for the question on everybody’s mind—will this get me drunk? According to Ross, the answer is no. This is not her first foray into the world of alcohol in gelato; she says any final product with an alcohol content higher than 3 percent would require a liquor license to sell in the shop, and they tend to clock in between ½ and 2 percent.
“So kids can have it, but it’s really up to the parent and whether or not they want their kids to know what beer tastes like,” Ross says.
These flavors will only be available the week of September 7-13, so get ’em while they’re cold.
Time for a facelift
It’s been a good run for West Main, A Virginia Restaurant, but owner Andy McClure says the 11-year-old eatery has run its course in Charlottesville. On August 24, the two-story restaurant at the corner of West Main and Fourth streets quietly closed its doors. McClure says employees were notified well in advance, but a Facebook post announced the closing and farewell party around lunchtime that day.
“People have been coming here for years and years. Those memories they have are pretty strong and it’s tough to see a place that was special to you for so long go away,” McClure says. “It’s sad for me too, but it’s also exciting, and it’s time.”
What exactly it’s time for, McClure says he’s still not entirely sure. He doesn’t own the building but he intends to stay and breathe new life into the space, turning it into a restaurant with a completely different feel. He expects the renovation to take about two months.
“The reason West Main came to be was because there weren’t a lot of burger-and-TV-type places anywhere in the downtown area,” says McClure, who also owns Citizen Burger Bar on the Downtown Mall, plus The Virginian and The Biltmore on the Corner. “There was a segment of the market that wasn’t being served, but fast-forward to now, and everybody does that. It needs to be more unique, more specific.”
West Main Street has evolved drastically over the last five to 10 years, and McClure says part of the restaurant business is being constantly aware of changes and recognizing when it’s time for a space and a concept to turn over. “I’m not entirely sure what it’s going to be,” McClure says. “But I can say that it’s not going to be like West Main.”
Chef on tap
We haven’t heard much from the Beer Run guys since they announced the plan for Kardinal Beer Hall in the old Coca-Cola building, but as they get closer to the grand opening we’re learning a little more about what they have up their sleeves.
Thomas Leroy—who opened and ran Zinc and has made his way around other local kitchens—joined the team as head chef, and he’ll be serving up traditional German-inspired beer hall fare like sausages, smoked meats and homemade pretzels. Leroy says they don’t yet have an opening date, but they’re shooting for mid-
Definitely on the menu will be a gelato inspired by a popular cocktail from The Alley Light, which is made with crema de mezcal, citrus and hot chili tincture.