One thing you’ll notice when you walk into the new Liquid Freeze Ice Cream store in Gulf Shores is that there isn’t any ice cream.
“We don’t stock any frozen ice cream whatsoever. When you walk in it’s made right there in front of you, ” says co-owner James Thompson, a lifelong resident of Baldwin County.
Clearly, we’re not talking hand-cranked technology. Instead, customers select their flavors and then watch as a technician behind the counter flash freezes everything with a blast of liquid nitrogen in mere seconds.
“You can’t get it any fresher, ” says Thompson, adding that his process leaves no visible ice. The ice cream isn’t fluffed for volume, making it more dense
While it sounds next generation, ice cream makers have been experimenting with nitrogen freezing techniques as far back as 1883, Thompson says.
The idea for their store, he says, arose when his wife, Cristol, saw it on the Food Network last May. They began researching it and found that while the idea had blossomed west of the Rockies, there were only a few practitioners in the East.
Cristol Thompson, who has an engineering background, drew up plans for the store and they both spent months experimenting with recipes for nearly 50 different flavors. They’re offering fresh-made ice cream, milkshakes, floats and smoothies along with ice cream cookie sandwiches.
Liquid Freeze is located at Pelican Place, a shopping and entertainment complex in Gulf Shores.
Text by Dave Helms