A chamoyada might be something you’d expect to see down Atlanta Highway — and you will at La Mejor de Michoacan. But travel out to East Hall, down Gillsville Highway, and you’ll find the colorful drink at Los Scoops, too.
“Chamoyada sells a lot,” said Isaac Hernandez, owner at the ice cream shop. “Other than just regular ice cream, that's probably what sells the most.”
The chamoyada, sometimes called a mangonada or chamango, is a palate-confusing concoction that has made its way to Gainesville and across the United States from Mexico. It’s not that the drink doesn’t make sense in general, but it will confuse your taste buds in the best way possible. It’s equal parts sweet and sour with a little bit of spice.
It’s altogether beautiful and refreshing.
And it all starts with an empty, clear plastic cup.
Holding the cup, Hernandez pours chamoy sauce — a type of sauce that has all the flavor of hot sauce without any of the heat — around the inside of the cup. Once the red, viscous sauce drips down the sides, Hernandez adds in three scoops of mango sorbet.
On top of that, he adds diced mango, then more chamoy and a heavy sprinkling of Tajín — a seasoning blend of chili powder, lime and salt. Last, but not least, a tamarind candy-coated straw is placed inside the cup and the beverage is good to go.
“When (customers) walk in and see somebody making it, it's like, ‘What is that?’” Hernandez said. “It makes your mouth water.”
The chamoyada at Los Scoops isn’t like all the other chamoyadas you’ll find. Hernandez said many places don’t add the diced mango on top.
The chamoy he uses is different, too. It’s ordered in a big jug, but gets divided into smaller jugs and customized by adding Tajín and a little La Botanera hot sauce to spice things up.
“It gives it more flavor, sweet and spicy,” Hernandez said.
Adding the hot sauce and Tajín surprisingly doesn’t make it too spicy, but it definitely adds more flavor to what is normally an almost-bland chamoy sauce.
“I don't like chamoy by itself,” Hernandez said. “But when you taste this, there’s a big difference.”
Even the Tajín he uses is different, too. Hernandez said the Tajín you can buy at the grocery store in the states isn’t as good as what you can get in Mexico, so he buys his Tajín in bulk from Mexico.
“It's just better,” Hernandez said. “The one they sell here, it's not as good.”
The sorbet he uses comes from Greenwood Ice Cream out of Atlanta, but he hopes to move into making his own soon.
Adriana Renteria, an employee at Los Scoops, who spends her days making chamoyadas used to get them where she worked at the Pendergrass Flea Market. She prefers the ones at Los Scoops now.
“When I’m off work, usually I come by and get one so I can take my time and eat it,” Renteria said.
She said when people come into the shop, they’re “always curious about them.”
“Then they get one and they’re like, ‘It's really good,’” Renteria said. “They’re surprised by it.”
If you’re not in the mood for a regular chamoyada, though, Hernandez sells a chamoyada loca, which adds some extra toppings.
Just before the diced mango is placed on top, he adds gummy bears, bite-size chamoy and spicy tamarind candies — all of which add more flavor, but may not be completely necessary.
Let the chamoyada speak for itself: The chamoy sauce at the bottom mixed with the sorbet and the hint of Tajín may be an acquired taste, but it’s a taste many come in to Los Scoops to try.
Hernandez said sometimes, people come in and order five-to-10 drinks at a time for their whole family, so give it a try yourself and see what you think.
“You have the sweetness of the (sorbet) with the fresh taste of the mango, and then it's a little spicy and then you've got the taste of the tajin, which everybody likes,” Hernandez said. “It's like a lot of different worlds in one.”