On the first winter weekend that dipped below freezing, I made a beeline straight for the back of Ani Ramen in Jersey City. Bypassing steaming bowls of noodles and crispy bao buns, I was instead in search of ice cream.
And through an unmarked patio door, I found it—doused in liquor and engulfed in a mountain of candied toppings. It wasn’t some sort of hallucination induced by sugar cravings. I had arrived at New Jersey’s first “ice cream speakeasy.”
Run by Luigi Beltran of Luigi’s Ice Cream, who owns scoop shops in Red Bank and Metuchen, this collaboration with the popular ramen house probably won’t stay secret much longer. Sweet tooths and Instagrammers were already lined up in the small covered patio to try flavors such as pineapple Hennessy; Bacardi toasted coconut; and Patron with coffee and chocolate chips, or snap photos of shots being poured into their desserts.
The liquor license at Ani Ramen, whose downtown Jersey City location opened in 2017, is to thank for the boozy concoctions, and flavors are set to change frequently at the speakeasy, currently open only during the weekend. There are two alcoholic options to choose from: hard ice creams that liquor is infused during the ice cream-making process, and Thai-style rolled ice cream, where liquor is poured on top and incorporated into the batter. (There are also non-boozy flavors.)
Neither will get you buzzed, but my dessert date and I definitely could taste the alcohol in both types, which we sampled generously before each deciding to spring for the most over-the-top menu item, a rolled ice cream sundae. The servings were enormous, and at $15 each, we regretted not splitting either the chocolate ice cream with hazelnut liqueur and crushed Ferrero Rocher truffles or the sundae with chocolate ice cream topped with a shot of Godiva dark chocolate liqueur, chocolate chips and fudge brownies. If all the mix-ins weren’t enough, each was gratuitously topped with whipped cream and chocolate sauce, and we marveled at the diners who had apparently tackled bowls of ramen noodles before heading through the back door to tuck into a Luigi’s sundae.
One thing not to forget before making your way to this speakeasy? Besides your appetite, bring your ID. These sundaes might not get you a sugar high, but the boozy flavors are still only for ice cream eaters 21 and over.
Luigi’s Ice Cream at Ani Ramen is located at 218 Newark Ave., Jersey City. Currently open Friday and Saturday from 5 PM to midnight and Sunday 5-11 PM.Click here to leave a comment