Collin Werner was working his way up through the ranks of the Omaha culinary scene when he heard local entrepreneur Nick Bartholomew ask if he knew anyone who could execute a hard ice cream concept – Bartholomew noted a gap and Werner knew just the cook to fill it: himself.
This is not the soft serve drizzled with Crème de Menthe of the past – think quality hand-crafted ice cream with perfectly balanced classic cocktail flavors, perfect any time of year.
Working out of the kitchen at The Switch, a unique concept that enables entrepreneurial chefs to try ideas through short-term leases, Werner tinkered with his ice cream base recipe until he dialed in the proper ratios that would retain the creamy mouthfeel of perfect ice cream, but allow spirit flavors to shine through.
Primarily a savory chef, Werner’s favorite flavor profile is the classic lemon + garlic + thyme, but when developing flavors for Dundee Hard Ice Cream, he trusted his own palate, “I created balanced flavors that sounded good to me, like salted caramel.”
Classic cocktail combinations such as Tequila Lime, Bourbon Caramel, and Vodka Cranberry are popular flavors. Seasonal offerings have proven successful, including a holiday offering based on sugar cookies (for adults who are kids at heart), and a classic chocolate strawberry delight for Valentine’s Day.
The Switch venue comes with built-in sustainability, partnering with local compost company Hillside Solutions, so it’s effortless for the team to stay green, and given the quality of distilleries in Nebraska, collaborations can’t be far behind.
Summer flavor development is well underway, but to find out what’s available, stop in to The Switch for a summertime treat, or pick up a pint to take home and enjoy on a sultry summer evening on the patio.
Werner, also on staff at V. Mertz, beamed with pride when discussing his stint with Dundee Hard Ice cream, but has since moved on to other challenges. His are big shoes to fill, but undoubtedly another up and coming cook will arrive on the scene excited to expand their horizons and continue developing delicious hard ice cream offerings.