Rhubarb ice cream or hemp ice cream? Or perhaps some kulfi ice cream or black ice cream? Switzerland is definitely more than chocolate when it comes to ice cream flavors! To prove that, we at The Trip Boutique have set out on an ice cream crawl through Zurich to find the most unusual ice cream flavors. We tested ten ice cream parlors that sell some crazy but cool (pun intended) creations! Check out our selection of some delicious but also pretty weird ice cream flavors you can enjoy in Zurich during your next visit.
1. Grapefruit & Black Pepper (by Gelateria di Berna)
Best suited for: the daredevil
Only two years in Zurich and Gelateria di Berna is already a phenomenon loved by ice cream craving locals! It was founded in 2010 by Michael, David, and Hansmartin Amrein in Bern and seven years later exported to Zurich where they currently have four locations. We visited the oldest one at Brupbacher square, which also functions as their ice cream laboratory (you can actually see the makers at work through the glass window behind the counter). Since the three Amrein brothers learned their ice cream craftsmanship in Verona, you can count on authentic, organic, and mainly locally-sourced Italian gelato – but be ready for a twist because some of the Gelateria di Berna flavors will push you out of your sweet gelati comfort zone. The Amrein ice cream masters take pleasure in unusual creations: strawberry ice cream spiced with balsamic vinegar, pineapple with basil, marzipan with poppy seeds, raspberry and ginger, or hibiscus with lemon balm to name just a few! For us at The Trip Boutique, the craziest flavor proved to be the grapefruit & black pepper sorbet – although our eyes teared up a bit, the spicy pepper matched the sour, fresh, and sweet taste of grapefruit surprisingly well!
2. Rhubarb & Quark (by Giovanni L.)
Best suited for: the aesthete
Not just another Italian gelateria in Zurich – the award-winning Giovanni L. Deluxe Ice Cream cares about presentation as much as about taste. Their ice cream display case will please anyone who values beautiful arrangement: fresh fruits, chocolate decorations, and even real flowers adorn this exquisite gelati. Although Giovanni L. was opened in Zurich-Affoltern only a year ago, the franchise was originally founded in Germany by the Italian family Lasagna in 1961. This means that you can count on amazingly balanced flavors of the total of 120 family recipes polished over decades of practice! Next to the ever-favorite classics like vanilla and chocolate, Giovanni L. offers some truly unique creations, their unusual ice cream flavors including Tahiti lemon with basil pesto, honey lavender, or skyr – an Icelandic dairy product – with elderberries. We picked rhubarb ice cream with quark – thanks to the quark, the ice cream had a deliciously creamy consistency while the rhubarb reminded us of strawberries, but with a slightly more sour, pungent aftertaste. Oh, and you might also appreciate their collection of funky sprinkled ice cream cones!
3. Caipiroska (by Rosso Arancio)
Best suited for: the cocktail enthusiast
Caipiroska (one the left), a mix of vodka and different kinds of fruit popular in Brazil, is one of the weekly specials at Rosso Arancio, an ice cream parlor offering homemade gelato from 100% natural ingredients. Every week, this Italian gelateria serves one ice cream with alcohol inspired by well-loved cocktails, such as Mojito or Gin Tonic. Since we were technically working (if you count testing ice cream as work), we opted for crème brûlée (on the right) instead of alcohol – it was deliciously creamy with a pleasant sugary crunch here and there faithful to the caramelized crust on the top of the famous French dessert!
4. Hemp & Walnut (by Vegelateria the Sacred)
Best suited for: the vegan
If you are a vegan who has had enough of sorbets and is on the search for fresh, creamy, and organic ice cream, look no further! At Vegelateria the Sacred, you can choose from soy, rice, or almond-based all-organic vegelato flavors – our favorite is the hemp ice cream with walnuts. We were a little disappointed to learn that the hemp was added in the form of seeds and used exclusively for its health benefits rather than any other effects ;). Nevertheless, we enjoyed our vegan gelato, feeling positively sacred while sitting in a wicker chair and licking the vegan ice cream in the pleasant shade of the restaurant’s outside area decorated with potted trees and plants. Namaste!
5. Popcorn (by Himu & Höll)
Best suited for: the provocateur
The official motto of this ice cream shop is “Leck mich doch” – although “leck” is translated as “lick”, this phrase has a meaning similar to the English “kiss my…” (you get the idea). At Himu & Höll, meaning “heaven and hell” in Bernese dialect, it’s not only the customers screaming for ice cream, but also the ice cream screaming to be… well, licked. As if this were not enough, the Swiss ice cream brand sold here has a rather provocative name “Kalte Lust” – cool lust. Behind this slightly devilish naughtiness, however, lies an angelic purpose: to build a healthy, sustainable economy and to support a people- and animals-oriented production system. The Kalte Lust ice cream produced in Olten, Switzerland, is made from 100% organic milk delivered by the farmer family Badertscher. With this in mind, we don’t really feel like it’s a sin to give in to the temptation of the 30+ flavors Himu & Höll offers! Since this gelateria is situated just a few meters from our hellishly hot office, we have used the opportunity to test it thoroughly – for scientific purposes, of course. Our favorite is popcorn ice cream (on the left), but they also have unusual ice cream flavors you can only find in Zürich, such as the Züri Mule, a variation on Moscow mule made from the Zurich gin Turicum (on the right), and Züri Tirggel, a traditional Zurich honey biscuit.
6. Green tea (by Sorbetto Ice-cream)
Best suited for: the optimist
More than 20 years ago, Heinz Entzeroth decided to open an ice cream parlor; today, his brand delivers to more than 40 shops and cafés around Zurich! The beloved Sorbetto ice cream is produced at the Neptunstrasse which also functions as their very own ice cream shop. Although the location is a bit off-center, if you want to experience the local life and love a good old vintage summery design that will make you smile even on a cloudy day – the brand’s signature yellow and white stripes are literally everywhere! – you should definitely visit. The most unusual ice cream flavor we tried here was black sesame ice cream and wasabi, but you can also opt for other Asia-inspired flavors like the Japanese green tea ice cream or exotic ice cream flavors like lychee, rose, or fig! The absolute bestseller according to the Sorbetto team? The sour cherry sorbet!
7. Ovomaltine (by Gelati am See)
Best suited for: the swimmer
This super elegant Italian ice cream stand situated by the lake of Zurich near the beautiful Chinese garden will remind you of the 60s. Since 1998, Daniel Kissling – dressed all in white, including an old-fashioned ice cream vendor hat – runs his retro blue-and-white ice cream cart adorned with the beautifully crafted Gelati logo in cursive writing. The stand matches the crystal-clear water in the background and will immediately make you feel like you are at the Italian Riviera! However, the most unique flavor served here is all Swiss: Ovomaltine, in English known as Ovaltine, which is a cocoa-induced, milky malt drink first produced in Bern in 1904. We also tried some other unique ice cream flavors, such as blood orange, black sesame, and blackberry yoghurt in a black ice cream cone (left) or ginger sorbet with lime. The ice cream is manufactured by Paolo Palumbo and his Amore Mio brand using locally-sourced milk from a farm near Zurich – a cool necessity for long summer strolls around the lake! And if you still feel too hot, just jump into the water straight after eating your Ovaltine ice cream.
8. Kulfi (by Hasta)
Best suited for: the world traveler
Hasta (an acronym for Heladeria Argentina-Suiza Totalmente Artesanal) is a Swiss-Argentinian gelateria founded in Wallis by Rolf Bote, who lived in Argentina for twenty years. Impressed by Argentinian gelati, he wanted to bring the South American fruity, fresh, and 100% natural sorbets to Switzerland. Today, his son Paolo runs two Hasta ice cream shops in Zurich. Both are designed in the brand’s signature style: cheerful yellow walls, potted palm trees, and lively Latin American music dominate the space. What will put you in an even better mood is the vast collection of many unusual ice cream flavors (right). We tried blackcurrant (on the left) and kulfi ice cream (a traditional Indian dessert), but we also recommend chai latte, bergamot (the citrus fruit used for Earl Grey tea), black sesame, Basler Läckerli (famous Swiss biscuits), ginger, or the extra dark chocolate sorbet. Try once and you will never be able to say hasta la vista to Hasta’s ice cream for long!
9. Baileys (by Gelateria Leonardo)
Best suited for: the sophisticate
This Italian gelateria was founded in 1999 in Zurich by Leonardo Perizzato, the ice cream maestro of the Scuola Italiana di Gelateria! Twenty years later, Gelateria Leonardo is a successful family business with several locations around Zurich run by Leonardo and his two daughters. Their success can be easily explained – their ice cream is of first-class quality: super creamy, rich, delicate, and sophisticated! The interior design of Leonardo’s Sihlcity location is as eclectic as the ice cream itself – the gelateria has a very contemporary design in black and pink nuances as well as a modern bar serving a range of cocktails. Besides ice cream – our absolute favorite is the Baileys flavor (right) – you can also buy handmade ice pops (left). Outside the Sihlcity shopping center, there’s a white vintage Leonardo ice cream cart – great if you want to save time and grab your ice cream on the go!
10. Gooseberry (by Eisvogel Gelato)
Best suited for: the city explorer
Eisvogel is THE hidden gem among Zurich’s gelaterias – it’s so low-key, it doesn’t even have a website! The locals, however, know about it and have been coming here on a regular basis for three seasons already, joining the “Stammkunden” fast lane to get their ice cream as soon as possible. The secret behind Eisvogel’s success is the supportive community: local people bring fruits from their own garden in exchange for free ice cream! That way not only the freshness of Eisvogel homemade gelato is absolutely guaranteed but also the surprise effect – you never know which flavors you get. Since there are six new aromas every day, we regret you might not be able to taste the rather unusual gooseberry ice cream we tried. However, the gelateria’s concept is in itself so unique that no matter which flavor you will come across, you can count on an unexpected experience. Plus, we agreed that the Eisvogel gelati are by far the creamiest in Zurich!
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About the author: Denisa was born in the Czech Republic but lives in Switzerland where she studies English Language and Literature at the University of Zurich. When she is not working on developing content for The Trip Boutique, she enjoys writing short stories and reading.