Best ice cream in Washington? I tried 12 shops in two weeks to find out.

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10219 Old Georgetown Rd., Bethesda; 14929 Shady Grove Rd. Suite I, Rockville; 5241 River Rd., Bethesda. sarahshandmadeicecream.com.

Last among the Handmade and Homemade crowd, and indeed last of all, was Sarah’s Handmade Ice Cream in Bethesda. This mirror-bedecked, mother-daughter-owned shop is long and narrow, with limited seating outside and a bench with four seats inside. It also dishes out candy at the cash register, alongside its bevy of creative and interesting flavors. 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 final special flavor of the day I tried, Earl Grey Speculoos. This was among the best-received unique flavors, with today’s tasting partner (who also accompanied me to the Dairy Godmother, Mount Desert Island, Dolcezza and Thomas Sweet) rating it highest among any of the unique flavors. The ice cream, which was blue-gray and dotted with speculoos cookie crumbles, was fragrant and almost floral, with the speculoos crumbles reminiscent of the Creamery’s Nutella Biscoff flavor. The chocolate here, as one of my co-workers had warned me, rocketed itself to the No. 1 chocolate ice cream we tried. Its creamy, almost brownie-batter-like consistency and flavor left us scraping the bottom of the cup. If you’re craving more like we were, Sarah’s also sells select flavors by the pint to take home.

So, what are my takeaways, aside from the need for a month-long break from any frozen dessert? As expected, DMV creameries put up a stiff competition, hence the three-way tie for first among the Dairy Godmother, Everyday Sundae and Sarah’s Handmade: maybe the perfect outcome, since they represent the “D,” “M” and “V.” Tied for second place were Mount Desert Island and Larry’s, both in Northwest Washington.

Still, you can’t go wrong with any of these choices. I visited the cream of the area’s ice cream crop — every spot on this list epitomizes what an ice cream shop should be: the perfect combination of delicious and delightful

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