July is National Ice Cream Month. We can thank Ronald Reagan, the jelly bean president, who made the declaration more than a dozen years ago.
We Americans eat more than 1.5 billion gallons of the cold, sweet stuff annually. But just because it's ice cream doesn't mean it has to be frozen. You can enjoy yours in liquid form, with or without alcohol, in a slew of drinks and cocktails around town in which ice cream or sorbet is added for texture, flavor or just for the chill. Lumpy Gravy in Hollywood, the Frank Zappa-inspired 21st century cafe of the L.A. digerati, uses homemade sorbet in its Wowie-Zowie. (Like many menu items here, it's named for a Zappa tune.) The better-than-it-sounds mix of Lindeman's Belgian raspberry ale with raspberry sorbet is tart, refreshing and low in alcohol.
The brandy Alexander takes on added calories and richness at Hotel Bel-Air, where the bartender blends French vanilla ice cream (whipped up by the pastry chef) with brandy, heavy cream and cherries.
At Lola, a hip West Hollywood watering hole, there's Lola's Summer Sour. A large scoop of lemon sorbet, garnished with a mint leaf, adds tart flavor to a sugar-rimmed martini glass filled with Ketel One vodka and the juice of three lemons.
The Midori Melon at the Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel in Pasadena mixes together a shot of lemonade, vanilla ice cream, fresh cantaloupe and honeydew and a shot of Midori, the green melon liqueur, in a creamy, cool--and undeniably green--cocktail.
Celebrate France's Bastille Day and National Ice Cream Month simultaneously at Cachette in Century City with chef-owner Jean Francois Meteigner's special drink for the July 14 holiday: a double shot of espresso and two scoops of Haagen-Dazs vanilla bean ice cream, crowned with whipped cream and a dusting of bittersweet cocoa.
Ciao Bella chile lime sorbet replaces the sweet and sour mix in the otherwise traditional margarita at Dickenson West in Pasadena.
And at James Beach in Venice, a scoop of Ciao Bella watermelon sorbet goes into the blender with tequila, triple sec, fresh lime juice and ice in a refreshing watermelon margarita.
Purists can slake their thirst for the ultimate ice cream classic at West Hollywood's Le Parc, where the rooftop poolside bar floats a hefty, grapefruit-sized scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream in a parfait glass full of root beer.