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Bad Santa serves cocktails in scoops

“Bad Santa is meant to be enjoyed right after purchasing, and it tastes best in the sunshine,” says CEO Jens Lönnqvist.Bad Santa

Oh summer, the time for ice cream and cocktails outdoors! What’s best, Finland’s Bad Santa lets people enjoy both in one spoonful.

Let’s make this known from the beginning: although it is ice cream and has the word Santa in it, this product is not for children.

“We are extremely serious about this,” Bad Santa CEO Jens Lönnqvist states firmly. “All of us founders are fathers, and even if we weren’t, we’d still make this very clear.”

Bad Santa liqueur ice creams are like cocktails in a tub, their flavours ranging from honey rum and whiskey coffee to pear and salty liquorice. Each 200-millilitre portion of the gelato contains 3.8 to 4.2 per cent of alcohol, so it’s about the same as drinking a regular lager. This makes the boozy ice cream essentially a new summertime treat for adults.

“Our aim was to create a drink in the form of an ice cream,” Lönnqvist explains. “Hence we’ve chosen the first flavours from well-known cocktails, but other options are cooking up, too.”

DIY all the way

The story of the brand begins at the foundations of Lönnqvist’s home. In the middle of the night, he and co-founder Kalle Koivunen were doing some serious DIY at the house-to-be in Naantali, Finland, when Koivunen started to reminiscence about a time he made ice cream for his friends by putting alcohol and ice cream base in an ice cream maker.

“He said it was delicious and mentioned it’s a pity he never turned it into a business,” Lönnqvist recalls. “Then he suggested I should try it too and maybe we really could give it a go this time.”

Bad Santa’s ice cream has some unusual flavours. Image: Bad Santa

Laughingly, Lönnqvist requested a sample. Only a few days later, the blokes got together for a different type of DIY – this time, in the kitchen.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the ice cream tickled Lönnqvist’s fancy. The two grabbed the phone and called Kimmo Hotanen, who was invited to join the company.

Bad Santa was founded by the trio in 2016, the first batches being literally handmade by Koivunen. Things have escalated since: this June, Bad Santa will multiply its production when its very own factory becomes operational.

Santa’s just human

Lönnqvist has a few good reasons to expect Bad Santa to become a bit of a hit in its home country. Finns aren’t famous for saying no to a cheeky drink or two, and, despite the chilly climate, Finland consumes more ice cream per capita than any other European country.

However, the company is headed to international waters right away. Sales in Estonia will commence at the same time with Finland, and other countries are being mapped all the time. Bad Santa targets restaurants, cafés and events as well as regular retailers.

Southern European countries like Italy and Spain are of particular interest, as Lönnqvist is hoping to establish the brand in countries where the restaurant terrace season is a little longer than in Finland. In all honesty, that’s pretty much anywhere in the world.

“Bad Santa is meant to be enjoyed right after purchasing, and it tastes best in the sunshine, so terrace weather is good for business,” Lönnqvist notes.

Finland is part of the brand not only through high-quality local ingredients, but also in the name: Santa Claus is one of the globally best-known Finns. Lönnqvist says Bad Santa has developed a whole alter ego for the traditional Father Christmas figure.

The founders are aware that for example the logo might raise an eyebrow or two. However, provoking conversation is not a bad thing for a new firm – and they have a message to send.

“Even in all his goodness, Santa Claus is still a humane character.”

Bad Santa has created a whole back story for the alter ego of Santa Claus. Image: Bad santa
By: Anne Salomäki