I was back in Kentucky last week and on a(nother) rainy evening, I decided to check out Crank & Boom Ice Cream Lounge, in Lexington. My ice cream missions are never put off by rain, but I must admit, I was a little skeptical of the term ‘lounge’, The word seems to provoke images of velveteen furnishings, cranberry based cocktails and the kind of music you find under the banner ‘chill out’ on Spotify. That’s your thing? Not judging, but I did feel it was an unusual choice for ice cream.
I digress. Crank & Boom is part of a cluster of restaurants, bars and booze businesses in an industrial area calling itself The Distillery District. Just a few minutes from downtown Lexington, I can imagine that on a sunny day, the Middle Fork Kitchen Bar, Ethereal Brewing, Barrel House Distilling and C & B might be something of a hipster destination hang-out spot. But in the driving rain, I found myself the only customer inside this enormous warehouse-gone-pretty parlor.
The story of Crank & Boom began when the owner of a popular local Thai restaurant started making coconut ice cream for her patrons. A raging success, she soon developed a broader range, which she skillfully marketed wholesale…. until BOOM, she opened this bricks ‘n’ glass home for the brand this summer. This ‘lounge’ is actually a rather beautiful space – huge windows, exposed brick, industrial fittings and to contrast, gorgeous wildflower bouquets on the tables. A huge upstairs seating area offers plenty of room to host a party.
A sample of Honey Fig and Goat Cheese ice cream was dense and intense, not as tart as I’d imagined, with a fig jam that was rich and fruity, if a little icy in parts.
Unsurprisingly in the middle of Bourbon country, the most popular flavor is Bourbon and Honey – with Buffalo Trace being the chosen distillery here. What I got was a sweet, honey sensation, on the right side of medicinal, almost like a hot toddy, with a nice smokiness on the back of the mouth. Texture-wise, all the flavors I tried were incredibly smooth, but with a strange elastic quality – which I presume comes from the use of gums instead of eggs. I don’t mind this in terms of flavor, but I think I’d choose a creamier texture over this slightly gloopy style.
The Kentucky Blackberry and Buttermilk scoop felt fresh and natural, with a subtle berry taste that builds gradually, sometimes coming in waves as a juicy piece of blackberry lands on the tongue. These were huge scoops and at $5 for two, it was a bargain compared to NYC prices!
Crank & Boom have a great space, full of potential, as well as some lovely flavors. They might need to diversify to bring in the punters as it gets colder (perhaps those cranberry based cocktails will make an appearance after all). But with a real focus on Kentucky ingredients and a clear community spirit, I believe the Lexington locals might be the fuel that helps keep this spot going.