St. Albert company to sell boozy new dessert
Albertans could soon get drunk on gelato—actually.
Da Vinci Gelato opened in St. Albert four years ago and quickly grew to selling products in five provinces. But the Irnich family behind Da Vinci long envisioned an alcohol-infused product.
Most recently, it became the first company in Canada licensed to make what it calls the “Happy Hour” gelato series, a line of four flavours containing five to six per cent alcohol.
That years of effort is finally coming to fruition has the family buzzed—in all kinds of ways.
“On this level, we're the only one in North America,” Felix Irnich said.
The dessert wouldn’t exist if a series of events hadn’t happened first: When the Irnich family emigrated from Germany, Felix’s parents, Yvonne and Johannes, worked at a construction company. In 2015, a new facility they were building burned down.
“By the time we got there, it was just, to the ground,” Yvonne recalled.
The fire was an opportunity for Yvonne to return an early passion: gelato, which she learned to make as a teenager.
“I was quite young at the time, so I learned it from an old Italian gelato maker.”
It became a multi-faceted effort: Felix helped obtain a food safety licence. The family started selling at farmer’s markets, restaurants and retail stores. Johannes studied distilling, creating a recipe that would result in a potent, sugar-free form of alcohol, and the family came up with a formula that kept that alcohol from separating from the frozen dessert.
“Alcohol is an anti-freeze, and getting that stable, as a gelato, this is the science behind it,” Johannes explained.
Then, it took three years for the Irnich family to be approved by Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis.
To know their product will soon hit retail shelves is very exciting for the Irnich family.
“I anticipate seeing these in all liquor stores in Canada and North America in general,” Felix said.
The “Happy Hour” product line will start selling in May, in seven Sobeys liquor stores.
With files from Bill Fortier