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Food + Drink

America’s Finest Milkshakes

Ahh, the milkshake: one of America’s most revered (and instagrammed) patriotic indulgences. Though our main squeezes – chocolate, vanilla and strawberry – are always ready on-deck, we’re also about the innovative flavors and hybrid-combos. Behold, our list of the best classic and novelty shakes in the states.

A Brooklyn-based writer and editor, Chelsea's work has appeared in Matador Network, The Huffington Post, the TripAdvisor blog, and more. When not planning her next trip, you'll usually find her drinking way too much iced coffee (always iced—she’s from New England) or bingeing a Netflix original series.

See recent posts by Chelsea Stuart

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Black Tap NYC

Instagram foodies across NYC united to bring Black Tap to international attention with snaps of their colorful candy and cake-covered shakes. The craft burger and beer joint has two outposts, one in Soho and the other in Meatpacking, but no amount of tables could prepare the owners for the Beatlemania-esque fan-frenzy that unleashed when they added the coveted shakes to their menu last November. Though lines have somewhat died down since their viral hayday, hoards of milkshake mavens still come out for their Sweet N’ Salty (with M&Ms, pretzels, peanut butter and whipped cream), Oreo Cookies & Cream, and Cotton Candy concoctions. Hopefully the addition of Black Tap Down – a subterranean dining room to open below the existing Soho location – will help quell thirsty crowds, but we're not so sure they'll ever be satiated.

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Burgatory Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Burgatory breaks its list of “heavenly shakes” into two with a line drawn between the classics and their boozy brethren. Both start with a base of housemade, extra thick vanilla bean ice cream, but from there the mix-and-match and spun to order varieties are near limitless. Eyecatching alcoholic options include the Eclair Don’t Care, which is literally a chocolate eclair blended with Bailey’s Irish cream, and Grand-Dad’s Secret, which is laced with Old Grand-Dad Bourbon and smooth caramel. As far as the classics go, our favorite is the Fluffer Nutter Butter with crushed Nutter Butter cookies and a healthy dose of marshmallow Fluff. Pair your milkshake with a side of pomme frites for the ultimate salty sweet smackdown.

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LunchBox Laboratory Seattle, WA

Over at LunchBox Laboratory in Seattle, Americana comfort foods fuse with funky nostalgic decor and all milkshakes are hand-dipped (a cool/efficient way of saying they blend real ice cream with real milk and then mix it with real hands, not a machine). Though the menu is packed with too many lip-smacking options to count, we have our eyes on The Drunken Elvis, an intriguing mix of vanilla ice cream, graham cracker, peanut butter, banana, and a mixed shot of Malibu Banana/Absolut Vanilia/Baileys. Virgin shake varieties include the Almond Joy, Whopper Malted Milk Ball, Boston Creme Donut, and Banana Creme Pie. Of course, you can always spike your choice with Kahlua, Baileys, Absolut Vanilia, Malibu Coconut, or Patron Xo Cafe.

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FoMu Boston, Massachusetts

In a little game of which one of these isn’t quite like the other, FoMu is our odd duckling. Their alternative ice creams are 100 percent plant-based/kosher pareve/allergy-friendly/non-GMO/dairy-free and completely organic when possible. At FoMu, traditional milk is substituted with alternatives like coconut or soy milk, and processed sugars are thrown out the window in favor of naturally sweet agave and unrefined cane sugar. Silky, gelato-esque milkshakes come in flavors like Peanut Butter – made with one scoop of PB ice cream, one scoop of chocolate pudding ice cream, housemade chocolate syrup, whipped coconut cream and chocolate sprinkles – and Strawberry Shortcake – made with one scoop of strawberry, one scoop of vanilla, homemade vanilla cake, and whipped coconut cream.

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Cousteau's Waffle and Milkshake Bar St. Augustine, Florida

Cousteau’s has a lot to write home about – hello, powdered Belgian waffle bites, fresh whipped cream, cinnamon apple compote and candied bacon topping – but before you’re blinded by the beauty of their unabridged menu, peep the milkshakes. The most seducing treats are the Air Kentucky with butter pecan ice cream, real maple syrup, candied pecans and Bourbon whipped cream; the Electric Jellyfish with homemade blueberry compote and vanilla ice cream; and the Be Still Cody, an energizing mix of chocolate ice cream, mocha sauce, espresso whipped cream, and a shot of espresso.

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Photo by Sombery Jones


The Chocolate Shoppe Madison, Wisconsin

Back in 1962, The Chocolate Shoppe hit the ice cream scene with just 19 flavors made batch by batch. Fast-forward to today, and the mom-and-pop joint is proudly producing 100 varieties, including caffeinated gems like Heaps of Gold – with local Wisconsin caffeine-infused chocolate and heath candy, and Iced Latte-Da – espresso ice cream with swirls of fudge and generous chunks of chocolate. Other notable flavors calling our name are the Fat Elvis (banana ice cream with peanut butter and chocolate chips), the rich Zanzibar Chocolate (with three kinds of all natural cocoa), and the This $&@! Just Got Serious™ (salted caramel ice cream with rich sea salt fudge and salted cashews). If you’re counting calories, one glance at the nutritional info will reveal that the shop doesn’t specialize in anything low-fat/low-cal/low-anything, hence their sage (and heartfelt) slogan: “YOU WANT NUTRITION, EAT CARROTS.”

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Ted Drewes Frozen Custard St. Louis, Missouri

Long before Shake Shack was serving up concretes – a shake or malt so thick it can be flipped upside down – Ted Drewes was busy inventing them. It was in 1959 that Drewes started serving his capsized concretes, and from there, the idea was borrowed by quite a few others (we see you, Dairy Queen). And ok, ok, *technically* frozen custard is not ice cream, but the icy dessert is whipped into a smooth shake just as well. Prepare yourself for the onslaught of midwestern puns that comprise most of Drewes’ menu; there’s the Terramizzou, with sprinkled pistachios and Ted’s secret blend of chocolate; the Cardinal Sin with tart cherries and hot fudge; the Southern Delight with praline pecans and butterscotch; and the self-explanatory S’More. If you’re driving down Route 66 – their Chippewa location is a perfect detour.

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Duckfat Portland, Maine

Duckfat is known for a couple of things – their handcut Belgian fries cooked in actual duck fat, their poutine with locally-sourced cheese curds, duck gravy, and fresh chives, and their rich gelato-based milkshakes which source their creamy, Italian base from hometown Brunswick/Portland Gelato Fiasco. The Original Duckfat Milkshake is a blend of vanilla gelato, creme anglaise, and fresh Tahitian vanilla bean, but beyond the namesake are bold flavors begging to be savored. There's the Wild Blueberry & Ginger, and the Sea Salted Duck Fat Caramel – which, like the fries, includes real duck fat.

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Sassafras American Eatery Denver, Colorado

Though Sassafras American Eatery in Denver is known primarily for its Southern-inspired breakfast and lunch menus, their shakes have started to stir up quite a bit of interest. And sure, the spot has loads of everyday flavors, but repeat customers come out in droves for their avant-garde hybrids and sweet and savory fusions like the Chocolate-dipped Bacon, Praline Crunch, Blackberry Basil, and Gooey Butter Cake, all served in charming mason jars. The eatery has two locations, but if the weather’s nice, hit the historic William J Dunwoody house where milkshakes are met with comfy outdoor accommodations on their wraparound porch.



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