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Drop the Mic Ice Cream Factory brings boozy, savory treats to the East Village

The mic has dropped on the downtown dessert scene.

Chika Tillman, the founder and pastry chef at East Village dessert hotspot ChikaLicious Dessert Bar (203 E. 10th St.), is mixing things up with a new weekday pop-up, Drop the Mic Ice Cream Factory, open Monday-Wednesday from 3 p.m. - 11 p.m.

For 13 years, Tillman has been serving a three-course menu at her dessert bar, always starting with a creative amuse bouche.

"It’s a little tiny portion [of ice cream] so we can really play around. If it’s too aggressive or interesting or not familiar, it’s only two bites so people just finish it," she said. "We tease them with that first flavor. We do interesting flavors like tomato and basil, jasmine with honey ... flavors [guests] probably didn’t taste before."

Tillman's husband Don runs front of the house
Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz

Tillman's husband Don runs front of the house operations for ChikaLicious and had been encouraging his wife to launch an ice cream-only menu for almost a year. 

Across the street from ChikaLicious Dessert Bar, ChikaLicious Dessert Club ( 204 E. 10th St.) serves more casual, takeout sweets, like the new churro cone and the Cronut-inspired "Dough'Ssant." The Bar, where Drop the Mic is located, only features a gourmet tasting menu and Tillman wasn't convinced she wanted to change things up. 

At first hesitant to let someone run her restaurant while she was out, Tillman realized that a pop-up in Dessert Bar (only open Thursday-Sunday) was the way to go. She decided to trust her sous chef of six years to run a pop-up Monday through Wednesday, thus creating Drop The Mic Ice Cream Factory.

The name for the pop-up came easily to
Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz

The name for the pop-up came easily to Don. "The type of ice cream shop this is, takes it to a whole other level - that's the first thing that came to my mind: Drop the Mic," he said. 

As Tillman decided to embark on the project, she thought to herself, "If we're going to do this, what's different from just an ice cream shop?"

She knew the product was good and well received, but what would make it unique?

"Alcohol!" 

After trying various creams and semifreddos as toppings
Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz

After trying various creams and semifreddos as toppings for her unusual ice creams, Tillman decided to add cubes of pound cake "like a tiny, mini sundae" to complete the treat. But she wanted to dress it up even more: "How do we make this as an adult version? We put alcohol on the cake!" 

The combination of various sorbets paired with a specific cream and a booze-soaked cake as the base made for the perfect creation to launch Drop the Mic. 

"We taste test to make sure everything is interesting enough and married in the top, middle and bottom," Tillman said of the recipes. 

Tillman also uses a Pacojet (advertised as "a revolutionary device that transforms ordinary cooking into culinary magic") to make her frozen treats, which solidify overnight and are then quickly microblended into ice cream in the machine. "The fresh ingredients taste fresh," she said "The sorbet really tastes like fruit." 

Beyond a purveyor who supplies out of season or unusual produce for ChikaLicious, Tillman shops at the market up the street as well as the fruit stands nearby, which often have ripe and ready-to-use ingredients. 

For now, Drop the Mic serves seven dessert
Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz

For now, Drop the Mic serves seven dessert flavors, ranging from pink grapefruit sorbet with brown sugar cream and a Grand Marnier-soaked cake topped with pistachio to a purple potato ice cream with sour cream and a bourbon-soaked cake to Earl Grey milk sorbet with creme fraiche and a Kirsche-soaked cake though the menu will change with the seasons.

Most popular, and available at a $6 surcharge, is the black truffle ice cream, served with cognac-soaked cake and pistachio. "People are most impressed by it," said Tillman, who noted she may need to change to summer truffles at some point.  

To serve the Drop the Mic creations, Tillman offers a choice of three flavors for $8.50, all lined up "so people can see all the different colors and products, like soldiers" in a sushi case she ordered specially to keep the product at a much cooler temperature than fish. When the pop-up closes Wednesday night, she lugs it into the basement until Drop the Mic re-appears on Monday at 3 p.m.

This isn't dessert, this is art. 

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