If there’s one thing that Executive Chef Thomas Russo of Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach knows, it’s ice cream. Oh, and adult beverages! In honor of July’s National Ice Cream month, we’d like to introduce you to Chef Russo and the innovative way he’s combined ice cream and liquor to make a number of tasty treats our guests always enjoy!

Q: Ice cream and liquor is an interesting combination. Is there a story behind how you started to make ice cream this way?

A: Several years ago while working in Coral Gables, Bacardi moved its headquarters into the neighborhood.  They quickly became one of our top accounts and we partnered together in a  mutually beneficial relationship.  About the same time, I visited a poorly attended trade show where a bartender was attempting to make frozen Mojitos and she didn’t quite seem to know how to do it.   I quickly realized her mistakes and began thinking about what it would take to make it work, and the potential it could have.  The next day,  I ordered up our own tank of Liquid Nitrogen and with tools in hand, I began to study and develop some fun and exciting things to offer our guests.  Some could be partnering with Bacardi and we would make a whole range of frozen Adult Rated specialties, including the famous Cuba Libre as well as the Mojito.  We did a lot of weddings at this venue and the guests were always eager to try something new as a late night bite.  So we tried setting up a Cold Stone Creamery version and we ended up with our own spin that we dubbed our Adult Rated Nitro Ice Cream Bar  where we featured the aforementioned items along with plenty of pour-in “floater” spirits.  We hosted Chobani Yogurt for a week of Brand Training and for them, we turned it into a version of “The Country’s Best Yogurt” – “TCBY” Frozen Yogurt, where I would take my children to end a night out with the family.  Everyone raved about it.

Q: How has coming to Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach impacted your ice cream endeavors?

A: Moving to Sonesta Ft. Lauderdale Beach was like moving from Island to Island, the flavor profile of the Gables was decisively Cuban (in a good way), but in Ft. Lauderdale, it is the fusion of the rest of the Caribbean, and Gosling’s Black Seal ruled as king around here!  The depth of flavor and complexity of character seemed to increase with the darkness of this Rum, and like the Bacardi cousin, Gosling’s Black Seal quickly proved that Coral Gables is definitely different than the Ft. Lauderdale Beach scene, in more ways than one, it is already a  new big hit on our Adult Rated Nitro Ice Cream Bar!  In fact we have begun using this as an interactive, hands-on team building action station where we feel comfortable enough to tailor it to a liquor-free High Schools Culinary Class or as a Recreational Cooking Class for the local food enthusiast wanting to cool off with this cold steam!

Q: What kind of treats can our guests expect to find?

A:  I usually offer Ice Cream Sundays, Banana Splits, Ice Cream Mini-Cones, and Ice Cream Floats with root beer. If it’s an adult crowd, I make the Rum Raisin and offer Coke with Rum Ice Cream.

The next time you find yourself staying at Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach, cool off with some refreshingly delicious liquid nitrogen ice cream, or any of the other daily delights, made by our very own Chef Russo!