Here at the office, we all agree (which is a major feat in itself): No one thing signals the arrival of summer quite like ice cream. Sure, you can get the frosty treat at various places throughout the year, but come the warmer weather, dozens of our favorite establishments throw open their doors — or windows — and go into overdrive. These days, there are as many different types of ice cream places as there are flavors, from retro roadside stands (we like it when they have retro prices, too) like Brewster’s Red Rooster, to cutesy shops serving organic homemade treats, to slick eateries hawking frozen yogurt and unique ices. Here, we take a look at a few of our favorite shops.
Moo Moo’s Creamery
Located on the Cold Spring waterfront, this scenic spot has garnered a loyal following since opening in 2011. The bright orange walls — adorned with the names of ice cream flavors and photographs of children enjoying their tasty treats — welcome you; but it’s the rich, homemade ice cream (they make it fresh every day) that will bring you back time and again. Sixteen flavors are offered daily — but there are dozens available, including one-of-a-kind concoctions like golden Oreo caramel swirl, walnutella, and cinnabutter pecan spice. (If you can conceive of a flavor, the owners say, they’ll do their best to make it for you.) How to tell if your heart’s desire is on today’s menu? Why, Facebook of course — and while online, be sure to enter their frequent contests, you might just win a pint. The ever-expanding shop now also offers cakes and pies by request, and they’ve begun selling their frozen goodies to restaurants. Seating is available inside (on cow-print benches, naturally) and on the outdoor deck overlooking the Hudson.
DIY: Grace O’Connor, sister of Assistant Editor Rosemary O’Connor, swirls her own dessert at Yogees Café
On a recent sunny Saturday, Assistant Editor Rosemary O’Connor loaded her two sisters Anna and Grace (aged 17 and 12) into her car and carted them to the one-year-old Yogees Café in Lagrangeville — which hugs the property line of Arlington High School. They were on a mission: to taste-test the shop’s frozen yogurt. Rosemary noticed that the sign’s orange-and-green color scheme and Adirondack chairs in front matched the shop’s inviting interior, in which a few kids sat at a table, licking their dripping cones. At the back of the store are several stations where guests swirl their own fro yo or ice cream; flavors include the standard chocolate, vanilla, and swirl, but also dark chocolate, coconut, and pistachio. Once they have the desired amount, customers proceed to the large island counter, which holds a plethora of toppings: brownies, M&Ms, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, chocolate chips, gummy bears, and several different berries. “But the rainbow sprinkles were Grace’s favorite,” says Rosemary, who sheepishly admits that both she and Anna liked them best, too. When the concoction is complete, guests weigh their treat and pay by the pound. “Grace summed up the experience simply,” says Rosemary. “It’s way better than Carvel.”
Technically, the Beacon Creamery is not new. For seven years it has been serving up Jane’s Ice Cream, homemade in small batches in Kingston and delivered fresh several times a week, at the little shop on the west end of Main Street. But last year, a second location was added — this one on the east end of Main, right next to the newly refurbished Beacon Theatre. “There are a lot of differences here,” says Ron Iarossi, who owns both shops along with son-in-law Scott Zolotas. “This shop is more geared to adults. We do serve Jane’s Ice Cream here too, but we also offer cappuccinos, lattes, cakes, and pies that are all made right here.” Also more popular at the new outlet are egg creams and ice cream floats — “more old-fashioned stuff,” says Iarossi, noting that they are also served in retro fashion in frosted mugs and the like. (The shop’s soda-fountain-meets-barber-shop style, with pink and brown stripes, helps set the mood, too.) Also for adults only: wine ice cream. Says Iarossi, “There are six different flavors, and they are all made with New York State wines.” The wines — Chocolate Cabernet, Peach White Zinfandel, Cherry Merlot, Red Raspberry Chardonnay, Riesling, and Port — are produced at Mercer’s Dairy in upstate Boonville. Adds Iarossi: “You do need to be 21 to have them.”
Jane’s Ice Cream is served up at this tiny spot on Warren Street. But it’s the creative toppings — like Orange Roasted Almonds — that keep people talking.
Clancy’s Cafe and Creamery (formerly The Inside Scoop)
Hyde Park, 845-229-9866; www.clancyscafeandcreamery.com
The newest homemade ice cream flavor at this popular spot on Route 9G is cake batter with crushed Oreo cookies; eat inside or out.
Red Hook, 845-758-5959
A big favorite among locals — the line can be considerable on a hot summer evening — this retro dessert shop offers about a dozen hard ice cream flavors, along with a variety of milkshakes and other treats at prices that are hard to beat.
Debra T’s Cafe (NOW CLOSED)
Poughkeepsie, 845-471-3357; www.debratscafe.com
A popular pit stop for families on the way to the Overlook Drive-In next door, this cutesy cafe has 35 hard and more than 30 soft ice cream flavors — which can be served in a crispy cone made from a baked pretzel. Eat inside or out, while watching the kids climb on a fire engine in the fenced-in yard. New this season: Hello Kitty ice pops.
Cold Spring, 845-809-5323; www.frozenberry.net
The Fishkill branch has self-serve stations that offer nonfat frozen yogurt and ice cream and a variety of toppings, including fresh fruit. The Cold Spring outlet has no ice cream, but serves panini, salads and pastries.
Cone E Island Ice Cream
Homemade hard ice cream — and homemade whipped cream! — as well as eight frozen yogurt flavors keep this joint on the banks of the Catskill Creek jumping all summer long. Twelve coin-operated mechanical rides amuse the kids when they’re not downing the ever-popular brownie sundae.
Warwick, 845-988-1818; www.bellvalefarms.com
Just steps from the Appalachian Trail, this beloved creamery — part of a dairy farm that has been around for almost 200 years — makes fresh batches of ice cream daily. Fourteen basic flavors and even more specialty options, which mix in farm-fresh ingredients, ensure there is something for everyone.
Weir’s Ice Cream
Salisbury Mills, 845-496-4258; www.weirsicecream.com
This old-fashioned stand serves more than two dozen flavors of hard ice cream, several soft options, and their popular cyclones. Kids enjoy the daily after-school special on sundaes from 2:30-3:30 p.m.
Flip ’n Dip
Nanuet, 845-215-5453; www.flipndip.com
Hard and soft-serve, frozen yogurt, custard, sorbet, Italian ices — along with dozens of toppings.
Red Rooster Drive-in
This legendary retro fast-food stand offers burgers, fries, ice cream, and their famous super-thick shakes. Sip on a 1950s-style egg cream as you putt around the miniature golf course.
Uncle Louie Gs Italian Ices & Ice Cream
Mahopac & Patterson, www.unclelouiegee.com
This growing chain serves more than two dozen hard ice cream flavors, and even more Italian ices (cannoli flavor anyone?). The Mahopac branch is perfectly situated across from the lake on Route 6N.
Boice Brothers Dairy
Perhaps best known for its homemade ice cream cakes, the dairy also offers hard ice cream and lactose-free products.