Senior plans to open nitrogen ice cream shop in the Georgetown area

Luisa Santos (COL ’14) is doing what every Georgetown student dreams of doing: ditching her political economy major and opening an ice cream shop in the Georgetown area. But this isn’t your average ice cream; it’s nitrogen ice cream. Nitrogen ice cream is basically just cream and flavors, like most other forms of the dessert, but it uses nitrogen to cool the cream into a solid. Perhaps you might have done this in a science class in high school.

Apparently, nitrogen ice cream is a thing on the West coast but has yet to make it out to D.C. and many other East coast cities, which is why Santos is interested in opening up one of her own. She first tasted ice cream made this way when she was in Miami. “I tried ice cream made this way, and I thought it was the most delicious thing ever,” Santos said. “The texture was very creamy, and it was just a really cool experience. I started doing research into why this wasn’t popular everywhere already.” And from there she began researching it, and couldn’t stop. And now, she plays with liquid nitrogen like kid (or Vox) plays with Legos.

“I was applying to consulting jobs,” Santos said. “And I just kept researching this. I’d talk to all my friends about this, all my family, and my friends were just like you should probably do this for your job. You seem a lot more excited about it than any cover letter you’ve written, so I dropped all my applications after some serious thought.”

Once she got her hands on some liquid nitrogen, she tested a recipe out. And she immediately called the director of D.C. Reads that evening to see if she could be hired to make ice cream for the group’s Fall Fest. The next day, she made her ice cream for 150 kids.

“I tried to do a lesson, like an educational lesson, for the D.C. Reads kids,” Santos said. “So I always asked, do you know what nitrogen is? And this one kid was like, yeah, it’s gas. And the other kids turned around and they’re like, ‘Ew, it’s gas!'”

Since the success of that day, she has been researching ways of getting funding and talking to a lot of alumni. One alum has even begun buying Santos her ingredients from Costco for her so she can save money. And she has also begun working with a free consulting firm in D.C. to create a business plan.

She wants the ice cream shop to be like the average shop: a variety of flavors with toppings a customer can mix in later. Vox went to one of her tastings, which anyone can sign up for, it just costs a few dollars, and she can assure that this ice cream is UHMAYZEENG (yes, the all-caps was necessary, it’s that great). It’s way creamier than ice cream or even gelato, and you can really taste the flavors even more.

This type of ice cream, or at least Santos’ recipe, doesn’t require ingredients like emulsifiers: it’s pretty much just cream and some natural flavors and agave. No unhealthy syrups are included. Since nitrogen makes up over 78 of the air you breathe, it’s basically not an ingredient.

At the tasting, Santos had banana peanut butter and Nutella. The banana peanut butter was a new recipe, and it was pretty great even though Vox isn’t such a great fan of bananas. The Nutella was out of this world and has been the most popular at other tastings.

If your mouth is watering, then get excited. Santos will be selling her nitrogen ice cream at the farmer’s market in the spring and plans to have her shop, Lulu’s, open early this summer in the Georgetown area. Vox will be sure to check it out once or twice or 48 times while she’s here this summer.

Photo: Isabel Echarte/Georgetown Voice

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