Why drink your alcohol when you can eat it? Yes, wine, beer, and liquor have been used by chefs for centuries, but today's more adventurous gourmets are showing that booze can be the highlight of a dish instead of a mere ingredient.
Get your ID ready and call your designated driver, because these nine restaurants, candy factories, and general purveyors of yummy things are using alcohol as a delicious addition to everything from ice cream to pizza toppings.
Cupcakes from Prohibition Bakery, New York City, N.Y.
"Please eat responsibly" goes the tagline at this bakery, run by two friends in New York City's Lower East Side, which sells wee cupcakes filled with an alcohol-rich center. The Saucy Pumpkin, for example, contains pumpkin, toasted pumpkin seeds, chocolate, sage, and an Oktoberfest-style ale, while the Scotch & Cigar contains tobacco, molasses, and Laphroaig scotch. The impact of the latter is so intense, in fact, that the staff will only serve one per customer, at their discretion.
Pizza from Salvatore's, Boston, Mass.
Salvatore's, with several locations in and around Boston, might be the first Italian joint that makes you show ID before ordering a pizza. Boozy pies include the Drunken Pig (mozzarella, spicy honey, caramelized apples, and pork marinated in Kahlua) and the Calabria Pear (mascarpone, mozzarella, basil, sopressata, and pear soaked in Schnapps). Perhaps the most famous is the Vignola Cherry, which includes gorgonzola, mozzarella, orange blossom honey, prosciutto, and bing cherries steeped in vodka. Skip the beer, and have another slice.
Ice Cream from Mercer's, Boonville, N.Y.
Open for more than 60 years, the owners of this ice cream shop had a revelation in 2007: People love drinks with their dessert. So they started making wine ice cream with up to 5 percent alcohol by volume (and 15 percent butterfat). Now you can scoop up flavors like Chocolate Cabernet, Red Raspberry Chardonnay, and Cherry Merlot. If you can't get to the original dairy, you can always get a pint delivered within 24 hours anywhere in the United States.
Sausages from Dogfish Head Brewery, Milton, Del.
Beer nerds already revere the suds from the Dogfish Head Brewery in Delaware. Now, at the newly opened on-site food truck Bunyan's Lunchbox, they can feast on brats that have been dipped, soaked, and thoroughly steeped in that same beer. The Heirloom Italian Brat, an old family recipe from one of the brewery's owners, mixes fennel, pork, and red pepper with a liberal dose of Midas Touch, an ale that somehow evokes both mead and wine. The brewery also sells a porky clam chowder and hoppy pickles splashed with its signature 60 Minute IPA brew.
Cheese from Rogue Creamery, Central Point, Ore.
These cheesemakers from southern Oregon, in business since the Great Depression, know how to liven up a block of cheddar. Rogue Creamery begins by pouring chocolate stout from partner Rogue Ales over some curds. After they've been given time to meld, the mixture is pressed into blocks and aged for 24 months. The resulting cheese combines the piquant twang of cheddar with the bittersweet creaminess of stout. Its Morimoto Soba Ale Cheddar relies on another beer from Rogue Ales, producing a slightly more buttery, distinctively marbled cheese.
Sweets from Anette's Chocolates, Napa, Calif.
The brother and sister behind this artisanal chocolate maker pay tribute to their Napa Valley environs by blending the region's famous wines with their sugary treats. That includes their Buttery Chardonnay Wine Brittle, and some signature sweet sauces, including the Chocolate Cabernet and Belgian Chocolate Brandy. And then there are the truffles, one-bite wonders with a coating of dark or milk chocolate around an adults-only filling, made with brandy, port, or wine.
Pork from Woodford Reserve, Versailles, Ky.
Woodford Reserve, the smallest and oldest operating distillery in the United States, has been around since the 1780s. Get a tasty history lesson by taking a tour of the facilities, complete with a boozy lunch. The chili combines bourbon and locally raised beef, while the Sweet and Spicy Bluegrass Bourbon Porchetta & Swiss sandwich goes four steps further, layering bourbon-infused roast pork loin with Swiss cheese, bourbon pecan sweet red pepper pesto, and bourbon sorghum mustard, all covered with a bourbon sorghum vinaigrette.
Lollipos from Lollyphile, Austin, Texas
This Texas company's bestseller, the absinthe lollipop, is as green as its namesake, which was made legal in the United States in 2007. Equally intoxicating are the bourbon, strawberry basil mojito, and habanero tequila lollipops. And while not as boozy, Lollyphile's newest flavor is equally daring: Breast milk. Although not made with actual breast milk, the creative confectioners did taste, test, and analyze the real thing to ensure the candy version was a fair replica.
Popcorn from Populence, New York City, N.Y.
Teaming up with Kim Crawford, a winery based in New Zealand, this popcorn retailer has created Sauvignon Blanc Kettle: A golden yellow heirloom popcorn that not only goes well with wine, but has the stuff practically popped into its kernels. If you order it at the company's gourmet popcorn bar in Manhattan, you can get an additional drizzle of pinot noir chocolate sauce for the ultimate boozy kettle corn.