Popsicles are having a moment in the spotlight, just in time for the next heat wave (otherwise known as our permanent summer). More sophisticated than the classic ice pops bought off your local ice cream truck, this new breed of frozen treats showcases luxurious ingredients (Valrhona chocolate), farmer’s market finds (fresh berries) and unusual pairings (avocado and vanilla).
Another trend in frozen treats: seasonal ingredients. This means flavors come and go depending on what’s available — the only downside being that your favorite flavors may soon be MIA, so get them while you can. The upside? New flavors to keep you coming back. Sweet Rose Creamery's menu changes monthly.
From an English ice lolly to a Mexican paleta, popsicles appeal to just about everyone, especially on a hot day. For artisanal twists on an American classic, keep reading.
Sweet Rose Creamery
Sweet Rose Creamery’s Valrhona fudge pops are kind of like a Fudgsicle ratcheted up a few notches. That’s right, Valrhona, as in the French chocolatier based in Tain-l'Hermitage in Hermitage near Lyon. These pops are chocolatey in the extreme, but also somewhat dainty, so you can easily down one and consider it a minor indulgence. Sweet Rose also creates a seasonal popsicle that changes each month. June celebrated summer’s bounty with a refreshing peach/blueberry medley. August brings a watermelon/blueberry combo. Whole blueberries are studded throughout and the color combo brings to mind a sunset over the Pacific. The subtle watermelon meshes perfectly with the blueberries. Why not take some home and dunk them in Champagne? Why not indeed. 7565 Beverly Blvd., Fairfax, and 225 26th St., Santa Monica; 310-260-2663.
Related: Check out our list of the city's 10 Best Paletas
Small Batch Ice Cream – Playa Provisions
Steps from the beach, Playa Provisions turns Playa del Rey into a destination just by virtue of their sweet treats, served up at their store-within-a-store, Small Batch Ice Cream. The seasonal, house-made popsicles will please young and old. The beginning of the summer brought an horchata blackberry pop — a milky, cinnamon-flavored base that paired perfectly with the whole blackberries. The latest flavor, kiwi cantaloupe, promises to deliver you to your happy place. The beachy, breezy vibe of Small Batch is an awesome mix of something old and something new. Buy a pop + walk down to the sand = summer. 119 Culver Blvd., Playa del Rey; 310-683-5019.
From avocado vanilla to cucumber lime, Popshop takes classic popsicle flavors and turns them on their heads. Cheerful and cute, with their small cylindrical shape, Popshop's wares are perfect for a party, adult or child-centered. Handmade with organic, seasonal ingredients, these pops are (relatively) guilt-free — even their wrappers are compostable. The avocado vanilla is dairy-free yet extremely creamy, with a sweet, mild flavor reminiscent of ice milk. These treats are available around the city in a few gourmet shops, like Urban Radish and Locali. Urban Radish: 661 Imperial St., Arts District; 213-892-1570. Locali: 5825 Franklin Ave., Hollywood; 323-466-1360.
Worth a trip to Burbank if you’re not already in the neighborhood, Quenelle makes it all look easy. Sporting some serious chef cred from John Park (Lukshon), this dessert shop provides lots of cold options for hot days. At any given time there are a range of yummy popsicle flavors, from the exotic yuzu lemongrass to the creamy Vietnamese coffee. They also have the absolutely cutest push-up pops in flavors like vanilla apricot and Mandarin creamsicle. Be advised: Quenelle is closed Sunday and Monday. 2214 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank; 818-843-1035.
It can be easy to forget you live in the land of Hollywood (depending on your location and job, of course), but Katana puts you right smack in the middle of the action. Precariously situated overlooking the Sunset Strip, the 1920s structure is so dramatic it is in the National Register of Historic Places. Tricked out with a DJ and a serious scene, Katana is a great place to spend a Sunday, eating popsicles spiked with booze. A summer special as part of the Red Sun BBQ, the fresh fruit pops are made with a mix of orange and grapefruit juice, soaked through with rum or whisky. These will likely be the naughtiest popsicles you’ve ever licked. 8439 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood; 323-650-8585.
The Ice Bar
The Ice Bar takes on popsicles in a whole new way by using them as a base for toppings and turning them into a nouveau sundae. You choose a pop, like Nutella, bananas and cream or Korean pear blueberry, and then go to town. The topping choices at The Ice Bar are dizzying, with six varieties of “gels,” like calpico (a Japanese milk-flavored soft drink) and pineapple, as well as various other unusual items, like fresh Thai basil, Pop Rocks, pie crust and pico de gallo powder. 550 S. Glendora Ave., West Covina; 626-338-8770.
A creamsicle is a thing of beauty, melding icy goodness with creamy goodness to a balanced perfection. The Nest at WP24 (Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant and lounge on the 24th floor of The Ritz-Carlton at L.A. Live) ups the ante by infusing the sorbet side with calamansi, a citrus fruit with a sour orange flavor. Blended with creamy vanilla ice cream and drizzled in white chocolate, WP24's creamsicle rests on a bed of krispie rice puffs with comes with a side of fresh, mixed berries. As an added bonus, the bar will mix you a creamsicle cocktail. This blend of vanilla vodka, orange juice and simple syrup, topped with fresh whipped cream, puts a completely new spin on the classic iced dessert. 900 W. Olympic Blvd., Downtown; 213-743-8824.
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Suck It Sweets and Treat’s “sucksicles” are “vegan, vegetarian, all natural (no preservatives, no additives, gluten-free, environmentally friendly)” and almost guilt-free. With the largest selection of anyplace on this list, Suck It’s wide range of flavors range from the refreshing lavender lemonade to the sweeter, cinnamon-y Mexican hot chocolate. Now available at Sweet! at Hollywood & Highland, where their sucksicles are nestled amongst 300 kinds of candy bars and 250 versions of lollipops, Suck It serves up plenty of seasonal offerings as well, like strawberry balsamic and blueberry hibiscus. 6801 Hollywood Blvd., Ste. 201, Hollywood; 818-980-SUCK.