New York consumers, who’ve been constricted more than most during the COVID-19 era, are getting a reward. The New York General Assembly has passed and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has signed legislation authorizing the manufacture and sale of ice cream and other frozen desserts made with liquor in the Empire State.

Cuomo, who has set state liquor policy for the pandemic through his compliant New York State Liquor Authority, said he signed the bill to permit legal lacing of ice cream and frozen desserts with liquor because those new offerings will “help  New York’s dairy farmers, liquor and craft beverage producers, dairy processors and manufacturers, food retailers, and restaurants meet the increasing consumer demand for these new and innovative products.”

“The craft beverage industry has experienced explosive growth in New York and with that comes a responsibility to advance regulations that help ensure long-term viability, protect consumers and provide farmers with opportunities to increase their business,”  Cuomo said. “This legislation will further grow a burgeoning industry and boost small businesses while helping to put them on a path of sustained growth that empowers both producers and consumers.” 

The measure would limit the percentage of alcohol in ice cream to not more than 5 percent of alcohol by volume and would require the same product labeling and warning statements similar to confectionaries that contain wine, beer, or cider. That’s about the same amount of alcohol found in a regular beer.

New York now ranks in the top five in the U.S. for its number of craft beverage producers in every category. The state ranks first in the U.S. for the number of hard cider producers, second in craft breweries and distilleries, and fourth in the country for the total number of wineries. 

State Sen. Rachel May, D-Syracuse, and Assemblymember Donna Lupardo, D-Binghamton,  were sponsors of the legislation.

 “New Yorkers are already able to responsibly enjoy beer, wine, and cider infused ice creams,” May said. “Thanks to this bill, vendors will now be able to offer their customers another delicious treat. This legislation will help New York’s dairy industry and our liquor and craft beverage industries at the same time. I am very grateful to the governor for signing this into law, and I look forward to sharing some maple bourbon ice cream with him at next year’s State Fair.”

 Lupardo said, “This bill expands on the successful addition of wine, beer, and cider to certain specialty ice creams. Any time we can allow our dairy farmers and producers to add a product that’s popular with consumers, it’s good for business and it’s good for tourism. Our distilleries are especially enthusiastic about the potential for NY spirits in NY ice cream.”

Recognizing the value that craft manufacturers have for not just their own businesses, but for the State’s entire economy, Cuomo says craft manufacturers are contributing to the state’s economy . His administration has created new licenses, modernized laws, relaxed regulations, cut taxes, eliminated fees and launched innovative promotional campaigns to make it easier to start and grow new craft manufacturing businesses. 

Since the governor’s first Wine, Beer and Spirits Summit in 2012, the number of farm-based licenses has increased by more than190 percent, from 282 in October 2012 to 823 today.  

New York’s legal age for the purchase of ice creams and frozen desserts made with liquor is 21.

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