“Bartender, make mine an oatmeal stout with a scoop of chocolate ice cream,” is not a request heard in many bars.
However, at Browndog Creamery & Dessert Bar in downtown Farmington, it’s becoming as routine as “very dry martini, please.”
Known as a beer float, the ice cream/beer mix is one of the offerings at the micro creamery that produces artisan ice creams in flavors Baskin-Robbins never dreamed of.
The shop that opened in June gives equal time to what might seem to be incompatible ingredients in a friendly small town setting that is both ice cream parlor and cocktail bar thanks to a liquor license that happened to be available in Farmington just as Browndog was getting ready to open in June.
The space, formerly occupied by a book store, has just 35 seats and is a spin-off of the Browndog Creamery at 118 E. Main St. in Northville, the artisan ice cream maker that opened in 2015. It’s the brainchild of proprietors Brian Scherle and Paul Gabriel. Scherle balances his involvement with Browndog with his work as a physician’s assistant.
The booze part of the equation happened when the entrepreneurs were experimenting with offbeat flavor combinations and came up with the happy pairing of pecan and bourbon. It became their first alcohol-infused flavor and has achieved the status of house favorite. Its success led to such flavors as Soco Toco (Southern Comfort infused toasted coconut ice cream), Chocolate Martini (Bailey’s, chocolate, and butterscotch) and Boozy Eggnog (brandied eggnog ice cream).
The alcohol-enhanced flavors are served only to patrons who are 21 and older, of course, and there are more than a dozen other booze-less choices on a rotating basis available to be scooped into the housemade waffle cones or bowls. Each has a colorful name, from “Who Needs a Therapist?” (dark chocolate with ribbons of peanut butter) to Campfire S’More (graham cracker ice cream with dark chocolate and roasted marshmallows, and Javanana, coffee and bananas).
The proprietors don’t stop there, however. The offerings include small plates, typified by meat and cheese plates, bulgogi sliders, and a daily changing soup. Desserts go beyond ice cream with offerings such as bread pudding and pot de crème, accompanied by espresso, French press coffee, and hot chocolate. As many Michigan products as possible are used in both the ice cream and the other menu items.
About the Browndog name: It is a tribute to Flash, one of two Boston terrier rescue dogs owned by the proprietors. “We tried to come up with something using the name Flash, but nothing seemed to work,” says Gabriel, “He’s brown, so Browndog it is.” The other dog, Stuart, provided the name for Stuart’s, the soft-serve seasonal ice cream shop in Novi owned by Paul Gabriel’s parents, Mike and Elaine Gabriel, who also bought the building in Farmington.