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10219 Old Georgetown Road, Bethesda; 14929 Shady Grove Road, Suite I, Rockville; 5241 River Road, Bethesda.

Last in the handmade and homemade group, and actually last of all, was Sarah’s Handmade Ice Cream in Bethesda. This mirror-adorned, mother-daughter-run shop is long and narrow, with a few seats outside and a bench that seats four inside. In addition to a variety of creative and interesting flavors, they also dispense candy at the register. These include locally inspired names like Rocky Rockville Road and Bethesda Brownie Brickle, as well as caffeine and alcohol-infused flavors like Bailey’s Irish Chip and the last special flavor of the day I tried, Earl Grey Speculoos. This was one of the best-received unique flavors, and my tasting partner today (who also accompanied me to Dairy Godmother, Mount Desert Island, Dolcezza, and Thomas Sweet) rated it the highest of all the unique flavors. Blue-gray and dotted with speculoos cookie crumbs, the ice cream smelled and tasted almost floral, with the speculoos crumbs reminiscent of the Creamery’s Nutella-Biscoff flavor. The chocolate here, as one of my colleagues warned me, catapulted to the No. 1 chocolate ice cream we tried. Its creamy, almost brownie-like consistency and flavor had us scraping the bottom of the tub. If, like us, you’re hungry for more, Sarah’s also sells select flavors by the pint to take home.

So what are my findings, aside from the need for a month-long break from frozen desserts? As expected, the DMV’s dairies offered stiff competition, hence the three-way tie between Dairy Godmother, Everyday Sundae and Sarah’s Handmade: perhaps the perfect result, since they represent the “D,” “M” and “V.” Second place is shared by Mount Desert Island and Larry’s, both in Northwest Washington.

Still, you can’t go wrong with any of these options. I’ve visited the crème de la crème of the area’s ice cream parlors – each place on this list embodies what an ice cream parlor should be: the perfect combination of delicious and delightful

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