There’s an undeniable appeal to any combination of “childhood” treats and “adult” indulgences, as proven by the recent mass popularity of boutique cupcakes and Jello shots. Some of these grown-up versions of kids’ favourites turn out better than others, but the most decadent and successful example in the USA has been the liquor-spiked milkshake. Not often found in Australia, they are are great options for a club or hotel looking for an added cocktail menu treat or something different designed to appeal to a younger demographic group.
There are plenty of options for flavours to choose from to combine icecream, milk and alcohol but here’s a list of the tried and true combinations:
Vanilla Ice Cream and Bourbon
Tasting notes for bourbon whiskey often include “hints of vanilla,” so it stands to reason that bourbon makes an ideal addition to a vanilla milkshake. “My absolute favourite ice cream and spirit combination is bourbon with classic vanilla ice cream. Bourbon usually has hints of vanilla, oak, and caramel by itself, [and it] complements a sweet dessert such as vanilla ice cream very well. Topping it off with a Bordeaux cherry and even some drippings from the Bordeaux cherry jar makes this spiked milkshake something special,” explains California-based chef and recipe developer Jessica Randhawa of The Forked Spoon.
The team behind the historic Hollywood Tavern in Woodinville, Washington also loves bourbon with vanilla ice cream, but they add bananas to the mix, resulting in a “banana split milkshake” with major nostalgia value. “Simple, but a great summer milkshake!” they say of this treat, which features a swirl of chocolate syrup and crushed peanuts on top.
Coffee Ice Cream and Irish Cream
The sweet and velvety liqueur known as Irish cream already has plenty of dessert cred, and it (unsurprisingly) fits beautifully into spiked milkshake recipes. Creative director Courtney Wright of Black Tap in New York City enjoys the classic combination of Irish cream and coffee ice cream, telling us that “my favourite combo is Haagen Dazs coffee ice cream with Bailey’s Irish Cream. I have an odd obsession with coffee ice cream, and the sweet nature of Bailey’s pairs perfectly!”
Caramelized Honey Ice Cream with Tawny Port or Sherry
Dessert wines like port and sherry are traditionally paired with sweets. So, in a sense, pouring a hearty glug of dessert wine into a milkshake just simplifies the process. Owner Juliet Pries of The Ice Cream Bar in San Francisco says, “My favourite ice cream/spirit combo is caramelized honey ice cream with tawny port or sherry. The honey pairs well with them, and the small amount of bitterness from the caramelization helps cut the sweetness.”
Use a premium ice cream with high fat and sugar content.
Whether you’re making a regular milkshake or a spiked version, the quality of your ice cream substantially affects your end product. “I highly recommend an ice cream that is high in fat and sugar. This helps make the milkshake super creamy and rich, with lots of flavour. My go-to [brands] would be Häagen Dazs or Ben and Jerry’s. [At Black Tap,] we always start with vanilla ice cream, then add in whatever flavour profile [we want],” says Wright.
For some recipes and tips on making the best boozy shakes check out these articles: