Amidst talk of the flu taking over the nation, one New York ice creamery decided to give New Yorkers a tasty way to fight the influenza. The virus-soothing treat, called “Influenza Sorbet,” is said to treat the flu’s worst symptoms.
The sorbet, made by Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, blends Maker’s Mark bourbon, lemon, and cayenne pepper to mimic an old family flue remedy. It also contains ginger — which combats nausea — and honey — which coats the throat.
The dessert sells for $12 a pint, and as already become a staple for some. Owner Jeni Britton Bauer, who operates Manhattan ice cream trucks, says, “I’ve had people tell me it’s the only thing that makes them feel better. It actually does have a physical effect.” She says that the treat clears up nasal passages and soothes sore throats.
The sorbet’s throat-coating abilities likely comes from a small dose of pectin in the recipe. Pectin, which is found in cough drops, coats the throat.
“It’s just what some people need,” Bauer says.
The new treat comes after the state last week declared a health emergency, noting that the number of flu cases had more than quadrupled — from 4,404 to 19,128 — in the past year.
“It’s cute but I’d like to see the science behind it,” said Doris Bucher, who helped develop this year’s flu vaccine with a team of scientists at New York Medical College. She added, “It might spice you up or knock you out — but it’s no vaccine,” she said.
Bauer notes that order for the sorbet have spiked dramatically over the past two weeks. Part of the reason could be that this creamy delight doesn’t taste anything like a cough drop. The flavor is like a whiskey sour with a spicy kick, Bauer said.
“It’s not a miracle. It’s an at-home remedy — like chicken soup,” she said of the sorbet she began developing in 2004. Bauer initially kept the concoction a secret, keeping it on the bottom shelf for sick regulars for years. Finally, when the flu epidemic came to stay this season, Bauer decided to market it.
“We didn’t really tell anyone about it — we didn’t think it was marketable,” Bauer said.
This week, New York cases of the flu spiked to more than 23,500, and many elderly people have been hospitalized.