Chill Out!

3 Jun

If we were making a What’s Hot, What’s Not chart, gourmet cupcakes would probably land on the not hot side. It’s true, the cupcake obsession has become so overblown that people are flat-out tired of hearing about them (though we doubt anyone is tired of eating them). And if you’re thinking of starting a cupcake bakery, you’re going to have to fight off a lot of frosting-gun weilding competitors.

Photo: Lissa Gotwals

What’s hot in the world of gourmet snacks is actually quite cold: ice pops! Just as the fancy-shmancy cupcake craze turned a basic home-baked goody into a 5-star tastebud affair, ice pop entreprenuers are taking flavored ice to a whole new level.

Perhaps the most famous pop-shop in the country, Las Paletas in Nashville, TN is named after the gourmet pop’s origin. Paletas–derived from the Spanish word palo, which means stick–have been a staple of Mexican childhood for decades. Immigrants brought them to the States, where paletas are sold as street food in Latin American communities. While the pops are traditionally made with fresh fruit, gourmet shops are adding ingredients you probably wouldn’t imagine on a stick: avocado, hibiscus, rhubarb, basil, and my personal favorite: tequila. We hope someone opens an ice pop bar, where all cocktails are served frozen on a stick. (Word is, Bar Ninteen12 serves up a mean martini popsicle.)

In honor of sticky-fingered summer days, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best gourmet ice pop makers in the country. And in case there isn’t a pop-monger near you, we’ve rangled up a few recipes for cocktail popsicle treats.

Las Paletas

Las Paletas has been featured on The Food Network multiple times, even playing host to Bobby Flay’s Throwdown (the Paz sisters took Flay down with their Pineapple-Chile concoction). This place is so famous it apparently doesn’t need a website, but you can find them in Nashville, TN.


People’s Pops

At several market locations in New York City, People’s pushes pops in flavors like Apricot-Caramel, Spiced Pear, Blueberry Chai and Rhubarb-Hibiscus. Each is handmade using local, sustainably-grown, organic ingredients.



Summer Bicknell left her corporate job to launch Locopops, based in eastern North Carolina, in 2005. She didn’t just jump in blind. Bicknell actually spent three months apprenticing at a paleteria in Michoacan, Mexico (folklore has it that the first paleta was created in Michaocan). Flavors past and present include Mexican Chocolate, Mango Chile, and White Chocolate Sesame.

Pleasant Pops

College friends Brian and Roger brought gourmet paletas to Washington DC in 2010, where you can get ’em from a truck, a farmer’s market stand, or even on campus at George Washington University. Pleasant Pops ingredeints come from local farmers, and they offer more than 40 flavors including Thai Coconut Curry Cream, Blueberry Pancake, Guac Pop (Avocado Lime), and Watermelon Black Pepper.

Your fave ice pop maker didn’t make the list? Let me know and I’ll add ’em!

Photo: People's Pops

Mojito Pops

2 ounces Bacardi Light Rum           
3 ounces fresh lime juice                       
3 ounces simple syrup          
2.5 cups lemon lime soda              
12 fresh mint leaves                         
3 cups ice cubes                         

Combine ingredients into blender with ice.  Puree until mixture is smooth and slushy. Pour into 6 popsicle molds, add popsicle sticks and freeze for 8 hours.

Cucumber, Elderflower & Tequila

(courtesy People’s Pops & WSJ)

3 medium cucumbers
3 ounces elderflower syrup
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Approx. 1 ounce tequila

Wash and peel cucumbers, then puree them. Transfer puree to a container with a pouring spout and add the elderflower syrup and lemon juice. Next, add the tequila to taste. Be careful not to add too much tequila as it will prevent freezing. Pour the mixture into ice pop molds, leaving a little bit of room at the top for the expansion that occurs when liquids freeze. Insert sticks and freeze 4-6 hours, until solid.


One Response to “Chill Out!”

  1. Connie June 3, 2011 at 3:21 pm #


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