My Ice Cream Flight
Featuring: Whiskey Caramel Swirl, Grizzly Jack, Tahitian French Lavender, & Strawberry Orange Sorbet
From Ampersand Ice Cream in Fresno, CA
So my trip to Ampersand will be a little bit different, even though it started just like the other places I’d experienced prior. Upon entering, like so many other ice cream places I visit, I was overwhelmed by the amount of decisions of flavors to choose from. Arg. As much as ice cream is the dream, before I can get to this pleasantly unconscious ideal, I have to go through the trials and tribulations of choosing a flavor. Looking around my heart sank. I notice this place has seasonal flavors, which means I go from an unpleasant dream to full blown nightmare. A limited time offer that I only have a small window to experience.
Luckily Ampersand, like a few other ice cream parlors around the country, offer a way to combat this tough decision. I’m talking about the introduction of ice cream flights. 4 flavors for $8, 3 oz each. Just enough to experience the flavor, but not too much to give you buyers remorse if you choose the wrong one. Also, not too much overall to make you feel like shit after eating since it’s 12 oz of ice cream- not a full blown pint.
The flavors of the flight I chose were: Whiskey Caramel Swirl, Grizzly Jack, Tahitian Vanilla Lavender, and Strawberry Orange Sorbet.
Before getting into the description of each, I will also note, order of eating is very important. If you devour your strong flavors first, they will often linger and affect the taste of the following flavors. It should end up as a crescendo of flavors, each with their own melodies. Not a single flavor in 4 different accents.
Whiskey Caramel Swirl – The first flavor eaten, and clearly the winner. Caramel with what tastes a light vanilla base, and topped with a whiskey glaze. It’s a nice sweet and light taste, and I could easily find myself eating a whole pint of this no problem. It’s creaminess, of course is going to be amazing, but truthfully of the four, this one was actually the creamiest, practically gelato status. The only single flaw I’d give it is that there isn’t enough whiskey taste. All of the whiskey flavor is concentrated in the syrup dressing, If you get a scoop without that syrup or glaze, then it can turn into just a light vanilla caramel.
Grizzly Jack – I took one bite of this, realized it was the strongest, and moved on. For I feared it’s flavor would negatively impact the rest if mixed with them. Grizzly Jack received its namesake from the local Grizzlies sports team (go sports!), combined with the idea of crackerjacks- as there are actual cracker jack bits mixed in. Welp, to avoid the overpowering taste influencing others, I decided to get back to that one later…
Tahitian Vanilla Lavender – When I tasted it in sample form, it seemed interesting. I’ve tasted other lavenders before, and quite frankly, they were disgusting. So while I had had a negative experience with this flavor, I tried not to let one poor rendition turn me off to the taste forever. So at first taste, the flavor was light and the hints of vanilla made it much more palatable, and less gross. But after eating 3 more spoonful, the vanilla begins to mute, and the potpourri of the lavender grows louder. To combat this, I decided to eat this in tandem with the Strawberry Orange Sorbet.
Strawberry Orange Sorbet – I did just note above how I ate together with the Vanilla Lavender, but I would be reminisce if I didn’t first talk about the flavor on its own. This flavor is a great example of citruses working together. Kind of like a cara cara orange or, some other sweet Valencia orange mixed with the ripe strawberries when they’re in season. What I’m trying to say is, the sorbet isn’t all that sour at all, so it’s amazingly sweet. At the same time, it still tastes like a real fruit. So it’s quite ripe and sweet, but not unbearably so.
The flavor is two ripe fresh fruits mixed together in a sorbet, where the main taste is definitely the strawberry, but with a fresh orange accent. Finally, even though it is a noticeably different consistency from the ice cream next to it, it’s still smooth and soft. Not once did it feel like scooping through an icy slushie, or like crystallized ice cream. I’d rate this as a fantastic sorbet.
The Two Flavors Together
Now for the two flavors together. The best way I can describe it would be like playing with Febreze scents in your mouth. On the one end, there’s the floral taste of the lavender, and then immediately after is the light citrus scent of the orange strawberry. It’s really a fun an interesting flavor profile to mix the two together. And because you have the slightly different consistencies, they don’t exactly perfectly blend with one another. It’s probably because this blend is imperfect that it feels perfect. Like the ice cream wraps around the sorbet when melting in your mouth, so an initial floral lavender that never gets too intense, because it’s immediately broken up when you get to the strawberry orange sorbet. It’s damn delightful.
Finally, we move back the the Grizzly Jack, with the flavor strength of a Grizzly Bear.
Grizzly Jack (round 2) – After finishing the other flavors, I came back to the Grizzly Jack. I was right to do so. The crackerjack taste is kinda nostalgic. I close my eyes and for a moment certain images of my childhood in the 90s come into view. Darkness at first, but then gradually the lyrics “Take me out to the ball game…” starts playing in the back of my mind. It plays right up til the crackerjack moment then stops. I take another bite, and the image of Smacks cereal comes to mind- especially since there is the dairy element. This was it. This was the memory my mind was searching for. And much like the smacks cereal, it’s a great initial taste, but then can get a little “meh” over time, and corn aftertaste can linger a little longer. Much like eating the cereal, even though it’s great, and you’re glad you convinced your mom to purchase it for you, After the 3rd week of eating it for breakfast, the novelty wears off. The taste cycle of this flavor is the same here, but perhaps because I’ve already experienced this in the past, it is condensed into the life-cycle of a single scoop.
Ice Cream Conclusions
So, wow… this was a single visit, and I packed a lot into this. I’m not even sure I can come to a single conclusion since there were four flavors, but if I’d have to rank them, it’d be Whisky Caramel Swirl, Orange Strawberry/Vanilla Lavender combo, and finally the Grizzly Jack. None were bad, but first two sets were definitely above the last. It’s kind of like the difference between the starting lineup and the bench in basketball. It’s impossible to win a championship without the bench, but it’s the starting lineup that everyone comes to see. So if you do come to Ampersand, let me recommend the starters, as opposed to the bench.
Want to try Ampersand Ice Cream yourself? Well they’re located at: 1940 N Echo Ave, Fresno, CA 93704.
This was four reviews packed into one, but normally I review flavors one at a time. To see these reviews, go to my royal reviews page, and begin seeing the latest flavors today!