Technically, science is against the union of ice cream and booze; while ice cream freezes at just under 32° F, most drinkable alcohol won’t see ice until about –45° F. And yet, restaurants all over town are putting boozy milkshakes on the menu.
Blending ice cream and alcohol can prove a challenge, says Lucky Diner owner Justin Mevs. Most people “are a bit too strong in the mixing process and they liquefy the milkshake as opposed to emulsifying the ice cream with the beer or wine.”
Mevs and Skillet Diner’s Molly Ringe report tremendous success with the classic, long-handled milkshake machine. Of course, chemistry requires taking into account what Ringe refers to as “the melting factor” by adding more ice cream to compensate for alcohol’s thawing qualities, and leaving the milk out altogether. The result: a harmonious wedding of molecules that replicates velvety texture we love so much.
Here are four places in Seattle that offer these frothy defiers of science:
The Capitol Hill diner has been pouring out the grown-up shakes since Ringe’s self-professed milkshake epiphany earlier this year. ‘Colonel Parker’ is the inaugural and easily the most popular variety on the menu, with its jigger of Jack Daniels, globs of peanut butter, and streams of housemade maple syrup. ‘Irish Car Bomb Gone Ice Cream’ is the latest addition, featuring Jameson whiskey and Guinness. Look for seasonal flavors later this year spotlighting candy cane vodka and eggnog (separately, of course). 1400 E Union St at 14th Ave, Capitol Hill, 206-512-2000; skilletstreetfood.com.
The new brick-and-mortar outpost of Autumn Martin’s Hot Cakes business puts a whiskey slant on her signature obsession with chocolate. As with everything on the menu, these shakes are almost entirely organic and feature local ingredients, namely handmade ice cream from Seattle’s Bluebird Microcreamery. Melt into the extra dark caramel, espresso, and rye whiskey frappe. Vicariously cross the border with your mezcal, lime, and caramel shake, and stay there to enjoy another blend of tequila and jalapeno. But those who adore Hot Cakes’ chocolate prowess should pick the smoked chocolate and Laphraoig combo without hesitation. 5427 Ballard Ave NW, Ballard, 206-420-3431; getyourhotcakes.com.
This clean-cut yet authentic diner is fearless in its exploration of the possibilities involving booze and dairy. Mevs, the owner, proudly reports that all of the hot fudge, fruit purees, and syrups are crafted in-house. So whether you prefer a Chocolate “Grown-Up Milkshake” with Deschutes Black Butte Porter, a frothy and fruity sangria, or a velvety Peach Melba with Champagne, peaches, and raspberry puree, your taste buds are sure to feel pretty gosh-darn—well, lucky. 2630 First Ave N at Cedar St, Belltown, 206-805-0133; theluckydiner.com.
Mysteriously offered on the menu as simply “Cheffrey’s Selection of Unique Milkshakes,” these creamy blends are a source of pride for chef and owner, Jeffrey Wilson. His two heavenly standbys include a fancy bourbon and maple shake, as well as the Seattle-appropriate coffee shake, which features a housemade coffee liqueur crafted from Espresso Vivace beans. Any nonalcoholic milkshake on the menu can also be made “grown-up” upon request. Keep an eye out for upcoming seasonal flavors like candy apple, candy corn, and sweet potato and marshmallow. 219 Broadway E, Capitol Hill, 206-328-4604; americanaseattle.com.