Summer 2020 has been a season of acquainting myself with the joys of hard seltzer, since I missed the boat last year. I resolved to taste and rank every Truly flavor, an undertaking that yielded a very wide spectrum of delights and horrors. I also interviewed Marie Wright, a professional flavorist who helps to develop hard seltzer flavors, and she had many enlightening things to say about the process. Citrus is a key element in most successful flavors, Wright told me, because it conveys the freshness we’re seeking as we crack open an ice-cold can on a dripping hot day. What happens, then, when you counteract all that fresh, tangy citrus flavor with a mouthful of cream?
That’s where Tipsy Scoop comes in. The New York–based company operates half a dozen “Barlours” nationwide (it also ships pints for home delivery) and specializes in marrying liquor and ice cream, unleashing upon the public such elaborate creations as Cake Batter Vodka Martini and Tequila Mexican Hot Chocolate. For this collaboration with Truly, however, Tipsy Scoop didn’t even have to get all that complicated: the creamery took Truly’s four lemonade flavors and chose to represent two of them as ice cream (Original Lemonade, Black Cherry Lemonade) and two of them as sorbet (Strawberry Lemonade, Mango Lemonade). Then Tipsy Scoop simply popped the lids on, affixed a Truly label to the tub, and let the seltzer-crazed public do the rest.
The problem is that Truly—a product known for its refreshing juiciness and sharp little hit of fizz—cannot exist as a juicy, fizzy product when it’s being tamped down by the flattening, all-encompassing sweetness of ice cream. Usually, the flavoring of a can of Truly Lemonade only has to contend with a base of water; in this pint, the only elements of the original beverage that can cut through the dairy and really shine on their own are the aftertaste of artificial sweeteners and the almondy suggestion of black cherry. And that’s not where you want the uncanniness to come from, at least not entirely.
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As for the sorbet, it works a little better. This is because the fruity flavor isn’t fighting with any other element to be tasted; the fruit juice is emphasized by the water base, not dampened by it. The only trouble there is that the greater pronouncement of Truly’s summery, fruity flavors comes with even more of the stevia flavor and its licorice, metallic aftertaste. Again, it’s a reminder that your favorite backyard barbecue beverage really is in the product—see all those 21+ labels on the lid?—but the novelty factor of a 5% ABV dessert makes this a better gift to give than to receive.
In writing about low-sugar and sugar-free products, however, I’ve learned that consumers have varying levels of sensitivity to stevia sweeteners. If you have enjoyed just about any stevia treats in the past, you will find no reason not to enjoy this fun collaboration between Tipsy Scoop and Truly. And for anyone vegan or dairy-free, the sorbets are worth the splurge to see if they’re deserving of a spot in your dessert rotation. (You can purchase them on Tipsy Scoop’s website or through Goldbelly.) Better get them quick, though—this promotion only lasts through the end of August, which makes it even more of a novelty.