When it comes to beverages, milkshakes occupy a strange, liminal space. They’re one-part drink; one-part dessert. All parts bliss. And though few people would simultaneously eat a burger and down a sundae, it’s completely fine to wash down a Quarter Pounder with a thick chocolate shake.
Being sensible humans with working tastebuds, we love milkshakes. So much so, in fact, that we’re ready to travel for the right shake. Think of it: a July road trip, heat coming off the asphalt, wind blowing through your hair, and waiting at the end of your drive — a frosty milkshake (not to be confused with The Frosty, which is also technically a milkshake).
Whether you crave a classic soda shoppe experience or hunger for a shake spiked with a healthy amount of booze, we have options for you. Time to hit the road — before fall comes around and we have to hear about f*cking pumkin spice again.
Holsteins Shakes and Buns (Las Vegas, Nevada)
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OH BABY! We're launching 5 NEW SHAKES today! From Left to Right, The Cotton Mouth, Black Hole (where my #Raiders fans at?), Cookie Jar, Vegas #Vegan, and #Covfefe. You know you want to try them all so swing on by! • • • • #holsteins #holsteinsshakesandbuns #holsteinslv #holsteinslasvegas #bamboozled #burger #burgers #fries #unlokt #lasvegas #lasvegaslocals #vegaseats #vegasdining #food #nomnom #instagood #instayum
Holsteins is happy to offer traditional shakes for customers to pair with their award-winning burgers, and they come in all the usual flavors like chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. But the honest truth is that this is Vegas and we’re way more interested in their “Bam-Boozled Shakes” — which are totally alcoholic. Whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, so there’s no reason not to get fat and faded on these delicious confections.
Keep in mind that it will be hard to consume an entire shake and much of anything else. For instance, the Covfefe is made with Lay’s potato chip infused Russian standard vodka, confetti cake, cherries, a cornflake crispy treat, a cherry lollipop, sugar flags, Lay’s potato chips, vanilla frosting, and confetti sprinkles. There is even a Vegas Vegan made with Stoli strasberi vodka, vegan ice cream, pretzels, banana, peanut butter, raspberry sauce, a raspberry candy stick, vegan brownie bites, a dark chocolate pretzel rod, and banana Laffy Taffy.
We aren’t kidding about this joint: come hungry.
Sassafras American Eatery (Denver, Colorado)
Sassafras American Eatery is unique in that it’s a Southern-style eatery that specializes in breakfasts and lunches made from scratch with locally sourced organic ingredients. That means you have to get your shakes in early, which could be a little strange if you opt for a spiked one.
Look, we’re cool with sucking down ice cream and booze along with breakfast on a road trip. We assume you are too.
All the thick, hand-mixed shakes come in glass jars with a spoon and a straw for maximum ease of consumption. The non-alcoholic ones are available in a variety of really cool flavors like Cap’n Crunch, honey vanilla chai, chocolate-dipped bacon, orange dreamsicle, and banana cream pie. And the spiked options are equally unusual. The lavender fields, for example, is house-infused lavender gin, wild berries, and vanilla bean ice cream, and the Bourbon Street is spiced bourbon, chicory simple syrup, and vanilla bean ice cream. Bomb.
Black Tap (New York, New York; Las Vegas, Nevada; and Disneyland)
This list would feel incomplete without Black Tap’s Crazyshakes — the absurdly-sized, candy-laden milkshakes that went completely viral a couple of years ago. Initially a New York Eatery, Black Tap sells itself as a classic NYC burger joint, and burgers need shakes. In this case, burgers need shakes with so much additional decoration that they seem structurally unsound.
The whimsy is dialed all the way up to 11. Maybe 12.
Can you get a classic shake here? Yes, Captain Boring, that’s an option. Enjoy chocolate, vanilla, peanut butter, and more. But the real stars are always going to be the Crazyshakes. Try the Churro Choco Taco, which is a Cinnamon Toast Crunch shake with a vanilla frosted rim topped with a choco taco, two churros, whipped cream, and a dulce de leche drizzle. Or, get a Bam Bam Shake, which is a Fruity Pebbles shake with a vanilla frosted rim that is fruity pebbles topped with a Fruity Pebbles Rice Krispy treat, strawberry Pop Tart, Laffy Taffy, whipped cream and a cherry. And, of course, be sure to take about a thousand pictures of it because the aesthetic is at least a third of the appeal of these shakes.
Superior Dairy (Hanford, California)
Unlike the majority of the locations included in this list, we don’t expect every reader to know about Hanford, a city in the southern San Joaquin Valley (yes, not far from Fresno). But Superior Dairy really ought to be on your radar. The historic ice cream shop that has been in business since 1929. There are boozy shakes and Instagram ready shakes, but this place is all about rich, thick traditional shakes that are the same now as they have been for decades.
Honestly, tasty is tasty. Why mess with a classic?
These luscious shakes are only seven dollars, which is a damn deal considering their size, their tastiness, their thickness (you have to start with a spoon), and the fact that you get to eat them sitting at a vintage ice cream counter. They come in vanilla, chocolate, chocolate chip, strawberry, maplenut, lemon, banana, rocky road, and cookies and cream. You can also ask your server about special flavors and sherbets.
FLIP Burger Boutique (Atlanta)
If you watched his season of Top Chef or caught his win on Top Chef All-Stars, then you know chef Richard Blais is an innovator. He likes pushing boundaries and uses his creativity to do it with charm. FLIP Burger Boutique is the Blais twist on a traditional burger joint and it offers a modern, chef-driven experience that satisfies diners intellectually and flavor-wise.
Grab a seat at a communal table or at the counter and be sure to order a shake with your burger. The standard flavors are foie gras (Yes. Really.), Nutella, and toasted marshmallow, Krispy Kreme donut, captain crunch, turtle, strawberry shortcake, and vanilla bean. The shakes are made with liquid nitrogen, which converts a rich ice cream base into a milkshake in seconds. The best part is that this happens at the table in front of you. And if you want to spike your shake you can. The turtle shake can be upgraded with pecan vodka, for instance, or donut vodka can be added to the Krispy Kreme.
Margie’s Candies (Chicago, Illinois)
Though it was opened in 1921, it wasn’t until 1933 that this go-to spot for homemade shakes, sundaes, and hand-dipped candies was named Margie’s — after the son of the original owner married his sweetheart Margie Michaels. There’s a lot of history here, and that makes it epic fun to stop in and grab a shake. Previous customers include Hollywood stars and sports greats. But the big standouts are probably Al Capone, The Beatles, and the Rolling Stones.
The fact that the shakes are so damn good at Margie’s doesn’t hurt the store’s fame. As the third-generation owner Peter George Poulos says, “You have never tasted paradise until you have eaten ice cream when it’s first made.” Having that ice cream in a shake makes it even better. Extra thick shakes come in a large variety of flavors because you can literally make them with any ice cream or yogurt flavor of your choice, depending on what’s on hand. You can always count on chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, pineapple, butterscotch, blueberry, cherry, coconut, peach, peanut butter, banana, and caramel being options. There are also a few flavors like cappuccino and fudge marshmallow that cost a bit more.
They all come with whipped cream and a cookie perched on top. Yum.
Coney Waffle (Belmar, New Jersey)
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We’re pretty sure the saying is “everything’s bigger in Texas,” but when it comes to milkshakes, “everything’s bigger on the Jersey Shore.” Coney Waffle, which was established in 1946, takes the Instagram-ready shake model that has come to be known as the #freakshake trend and pushes it to its furthest limits. You’ll have to pony up 21 dollars to enjoy one of the shop’s Sideshow Shakes, but they’re big enough to feed an entire crew, the pics will be insane, and it’s a one-of-a-kind experience that makes having a milkshake-based adventure fun.
To be clear, it’s a 24-inch tall milkshake. Yes, it’s worth it.
Each of the Sideshow Shakes is named for a different ride or park on the iconic boardwalk, so the Wonderwheel is cookies and cream and the Tornado is cotton candy. That’s just the base shake though. What makes them special is the toppings: an ice cream cone, a ring pop, a Coney Waffle sandwich (scoops of ice cream nestled in between two large waffles), a cookie ice cream sandwich, a serious pile of cotton candy, a mound of sour candy and gummies, and a chocolate-covered pretzel. Black Tap may have been one of the first to make giant, crazy shakes viral, but Coney Waffle has a very “hold my beer” attitude about it.
Vicky’s House (Miami, Florida)
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Golden milkshake for some golden ladies 👭👭💛 😋@milkshakesusa — 👅“Golden Girls” Milkshake (Ingredients/Included: banana milkshake with cream cheese frosting rim, Golden Grahams Cereal, toffee bits, whipped cream, caramel, a Twinkie, vanilla wafer, and a homemade blondie with a cherry on top) — 🗺3190 Commodore Plaza, Miami, FL 33133 📍@vickyshousebylokal — 📸@leeschrager . . . . . #milkshakesusa #milkshakemadness #milkshaketime #milkshakes #milkshake #crazymilkshakes #crazymilkshake #crazyshakes #crazyshake #freakshakes #freakshake #shakes #shake #shakeoftheday #featuredfoodsusa #goldengirls #thegoldengirls #goldengirlsforever #vickyshouse #vickyshousebylokal #miamieats #miamifood #miamifoodies #miamifoodie #miamidesserts #miamidessert #floridaeats #floridafood #floridafoodies #floridafoodie
Vicky’s House is pure fun. First of all, it’s a “milkshake bar and tasting room,” so it’s already filling a niche we didn’t even know we desperately wanted filled. Second, the entrance to the quirky little space is through a goddamn British telephone booth. And third, the specialty milkshakes are all 80s pop culture themed. Plus, the tasting room thing happens on the first Wednesday of the month when local beverages and snacks are brought in.
Can you get a plain milkshake? You sure can. There are vanilla, chocolate, and bananarama options. But we don’t know why you would when you could order a Golden Girls shake made with a banana base and a cream cheese frosting rim, Golden Grahams cereal, toffee bits, whipped cream, caramel, a Twinkie, a vanilla wafer, and a homemade blondie with a cherry on top. Plus, the glass has a pic of the Golden Girls attached to it. If you prefer, think about grabbing a BreakFast Club shake made with a vanilla base and a peanut butter rim, Captain Crunch cereal, whipped cream, maple syrup, bacon, a glazed doughnut, and a shot of colada.
Seems like the perfect breakfast, right?
Burger Republic (Nashville, Tennessee)
People will tell you that the most photogenic shakes in Nashville come from Burger Republic. But in addition to looking like an exercise in artistry, they’re also the tastiest in the city. All of the milkshakes here are hand-spun using a special milkshake machine and a considerable amount of real ice cream to create treats that are extra smooth and creamy. There are 11 creative options for non-alcoholic shakes and 11 for their spiked shakes — which aren’t just the straight shakes with a shot of something thrown in. They actually crafted the alcoholic shakes with the flavor of the booze in mind and paired it with the perfect flavor accents.
If you’re going for a shake with a kick, the pineapple upside down cake is phenomenal. It’s pineapple liqueur, cake vodka, a pineapple slice, and a cherry. Also awesome is the Kentucky thunder, which is Dragon’s Milk Stout, Maker’s 46 bourbon, and chocolate ice cream. So good and rich and decadent. If you aren’t feeling like getting a buzz, try the raspberry cheesecake with raspberry puree, graham cracker, and actual cheesecake. And if you want a whole lot of cocoa goodness, try the ABC (assassination by chocolate) with Godiva chocolate, chocolate ice cream, and chocolate whip.
Black Sheep Burgers and Shakes (Springfield, Missouri)
People in the Springfield area know that Andy’s Frozen Custard is the stuff, so Black Sheep Burgers using it to make their shakes certainly adds caché to the rich, creamy treats. The creative flavors also help. We’re sure they would probably make you a straight vanilla or chocolate if you asked nicely, but we think opting for a shake off of their menu is the way to go. Plus, all the shakes can be made alcoholic or non-alcoholic. You get to decide whether or not the banana, chocolate, and peanut butter in your “Elvis” shake needs Irish cream added.
We have two words for you: Purple Haze. It’s a solid cannabis strain and a solid milkshake flavor. If you can think of a better flavor blend than homemade blackberry pie and blackberry whiskey in some frozen custard, then we want to hear it. Seriously, these shakes are bomb with their small pieces of pie on top and the slight whiskey kick. The “You’re All I Need” is also super good. You get to choose between house-made chocolate chip or peanut butter marshmallow cookie dough, then it gets added to custard with macadamia nut liqueur. Damn, son.