Washington's notorious heat affords a few pleasures, none quite as appreciated as the license to eat ice cream like it's the only food group that matters during summertime. But no longer are we slaves to plain old vanilla. The market for edible air conditioning now also includes Mexican pepper-spiked paletas, India's beachside coolers and boozy sorbets. This summer, try one of these exotic offerings:
Cucumber mint vodka: Robb Duncan, chief sorbet-maker for Dolcezza's four locations, uses crunchy, flavorful Persian cucumbers and locally grown mint to flavor this refreshing spring sorbet. Duncan attributes its popularity to the fact that it's effectively, well, a cocktail.
Grapenut: Because of the vintage breakfast cereal's notes of barley, crunchy Grape-Nuts make an unexpectedly tasty pairing for vanilla ice cream in this popular Jamaican flavor, served at York Castle in Rockville. Because it's more earthy than sweet, it's okay to get it topped on a sugar cone.
Habanero-banana ice cream: Habanero hits your lips with the force of 200,000 Scoville units in CreamCycle's roller-coaster of an ice-cream sandwich. So powerful is this pepper that the coffee flavor of the accompanying cookies is something of an afterthought.
But spice lovers will appreciate that few desserts pack this much punch.
Moroccan Mint: The first bites of this honey-colored pop at Del Ray's Dairy Godmother are loaded with real mint, followed by refreshing, icy green tea, making this an unmistakable frozen version of the real thing.
Viagra: Sure, this ice cream, served at Larry's Ice Cream in Dupont Circle, might boost your energy, just like its pharmaceutical namesake. But unless you find the Middle Eastern sesame-paste dessert halvah an aphrodisiac, this ice cream offers none of those, ahem, benefits.
The Guac Pop: Thankfully, no garlic or jalapeno is used in the making of this frozen bar at Pleasant Pops. But comparisons to guacamole are inevitable when creamy, ripe avocado and lime are paired in a complex, grassy-but-sweet paleta.
Vietnamese Coffee Shake: Never mind the burgers. Good Stuff Eatery's true gift is for shake-making, and this drinkable ice-cream concoction manages to capture the sweet notes of condensed milk that make Vietnamese coffee so distinctive.
Cherimoya: Native to the Andes, cherimoya is commonly known as custard apple because it looks like an apple but contains creamy, almost spoonable fruit. At Boccato Gelato in Arlington, the curiosity with a faintly floral and slightly sour flavor is certainly the menu's most challenging offering.