There’s nothing better than a frosty shake in the summer—unless it’s a frosty shake with a spirited kick.
Bartenders are crafting boozy blended treats with bourbon, rum, liqueurs, coffee and seasonal produce. Whether guests are ordering them as dessert stand-ins, guilty pleasures or as an indulgent cool down, these spirited concoctions bring a little bit of summer to the bar.
Play, a 194-seat, retro American restaurant at the 779-room resort The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, CO, has a menu of Premium Shakes that tie in with its playful, whimsical take on cuisine. “Our guests love a good after-dinner drink,” explains director of food and beverage C.W. Craig Reed. “And this is more than a novelty; it is something that brings them back to their childhood.”
The restaurant, which also includes onsite activities such as bowling, shuffleboard and game monitors, offers six shakes. The Perfect 300 incorporates cake-batter ice cream, vanilla rum and sprinkles; the Orangesicle uses mandarin vodka, Grand Marnier, vanilla ice cream and orange juice; and the Peanut Butter & Jelly is made with peanut butter ice cream, Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey and Chambord.
The boozy sips sell for $12.50 each, and currently account for 15% of Play’s daily business. “We thought we could have some fun taking something as delicious as a shake and adding a kick to it,” Reed says. Play also incorporates seasonal produce into the frozen treats, such as the Purple Pin, with gin, crème de violette, mint, vanilla ice cream and fresh raspberries. Another version features local Palisades peaches.
The Borgata Baking Co. at the 2,002-room Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, NJ, offers more than “sweets and eats.” The 30-seat bake shop also boasts a Sips With a Kick menu. Priced at $12, each of the current selections includes the concept’s house-made vanilla gelato.
The Ultimate Root Beer Float mixes the gelato with oatmeal stout beer and whiskey; the Drunken Monkey uses rum, bananas and honey; and the Frozen Cappuccino has Irish cream liqueur and Kahlua. “These drinks are ‘eye-catchers,’ served in a mason jar with a handle and a straw,” notes Borgata vice president of food and beverage Becky Shultz. What’s more, guests can take home the Mason jar as a souvenir of their trip.
Other flavors are in the works, including recipes that include Borgata Baking Co.’s New Jersey blueberry cheesecake gelato and red velvet cake gelato. “At this time, the sky is the limit; we’re excited to continue ideating unique recipes for our guests to enjoy,” Shultz says.
A weekly promotion creates blender buzz at Rosebud American Kitchen & Bar, a 150-seat comfort food restaurant in Somerville, MA. On Milkshake Mondays, the spot serves up a different boozy shake priced at $9. Options change monthly, but each includes vanilla ice cream and either Henry McKenna bourbon or Four Roses bourbon.
The Vanilla/Rainier Cherry Shake adds Washington cherries, the Strawberry Shake uses local strawberries, and the Horchata Shake includes a horchata mix sourced from Rosebud’s sister property, the Painted Burro. Rosebud sells 30 to 50 spiked shakes every Monday.
“Sometimes we take ourselves too seriously when crafting and building our cocktails, so on Mondays we roll up our sleeves and have a little fun making adult milkshakes,” says Alec Riveros, director of operations for Rosebud’s parent company, the Alpine Restaurant Group.
The Shakes promotion also pays tribute to what was surely a popular item during the 70 years that the restaurant was a diner.
The 249-room Gansevoort Park Avenue Hotel in New York recently became the first hotel partner of Panther Coffee, a specialty coffee roaster, retailer and wholesaler from Miami’s Wynwood Arts District. The partnership includes an exclusive menu of coffee cocktails including the Affogato ($15).
Indulgent enough to be a dessert, the Affogato blends Bailey’s Irish Cream with ice cream and Panther’s signature espresso blend to provide a sweet and frozen caffeinated cocktail, says Eric Lee, general manager of Gansevoort Park Rooftop.
Grill Marks, a creative burger restaurant in Greenville, SC, offers a few “Shaketails,” including the Russian. Priced at $9, the Shaketail mixes vanilla-bean vodka and Kahlua spun with ice cream.
The operator added beer shakes and spiked floats in 2013, also priced at $9. These include the Perky Kilt beer shake, a combination of oatmeal porter, bourbon, espresso and macadamia nut liqueur spun into house-made ice cream, and the Jim Morrison spiked float, with Jagermeister and root beer topped with two scoops of ice cream.
The biggest logistical concerns with boozy shakes, according to Riveros, are setting up the spindle milkshake maker, and getting bartenders to switch gears on Mondays from shaking and stirring to scooping and blending.
“Seems simple, but getting a perfect milkshake does take practice,” he says.
Borgata Baking Co.’s Shultz believes that the biggest challenge with this type of cocktail is consistency. Ongoing staff training assures that each “Sip with a Kick” tastes as good as the last one.
Soda & Swine in San Diego offers thick and foamy beer floats blended with house-made, slow-churned Angostura ice cream, as well as several Champagne Slushies priced at $6. One is the Pom Royale, with dry vermouth, lemon, grenadine and Champagne.
All 26 of the cocktails at Fairweather, a 150-seat cocktail bar in San Diego, can be served blended and frozen, from Tiki tipples to creamy boozy shakes. Popular choices on the menu include a Thin Mint Mojito ($11) with cacao-infused rum, and the Gunship ($11), which blends bourbon, Stolen coffee- and tobacco-infused rum, amaretto and coffee liqueur.
Fairweather’s overarching aim, however, was to create the ultimate Piña Colada ($11). “Fairweather is a tropical rooftop bar, and we had to achieve this goal,” says Anthony Schmidt, beverage director for parent company CH Projects.
He discovered that the slushie machine rendered a luxurious texture that was far superior to that of the blender; an added bonus is that it speeds things up during busy times. But perhaps the biggest appeal of this pineapple and coconut guest favorite—the bar’s bestseller—is the nostalgia factor.
“It appeals to our childhood,” Schmidt notes. “The slush texture reminds us of something we would’ve begged our parents to let us drink on a hot summer day.”
Kelly Magyarics, DWS, is a wine, spirits and lifestyle writer and wine educator based in the Washington, D.C. area. She can be reached at her website, www.kellymagyarics.com, or on Twitter or Instagram @kmagyarics.
Featured photo: The “Sips With a Kick” at The Borgata Baking Co. in Atlantic City’s Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa include a Frozen Cappuccino (from left), the Ultimate Root Beer Float and the Drunken Monkey.
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Tavern Road’s Street Cocktail Cred
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The Lassi ($12) is a play on the traditional yogurt-based Indian and Pakistani drink, with Old Monk rum, mango, yogurt, honey, lime juice and coconut. The Batida ($12) is Brazil’s other national cocktail after the Caipirinha; McGrale’s version blends Pierre Ferrand Cognac with coconut liqueur, coconut cream and crème de cacao.
McGrale travels to Brazil every year, and sees these drinks as a way of pushing the envelope and trying something new. “Unless you have had either of these drinks at a restaurant of that culture or even been to the country of origin, it’s something you won’t often see on a menu of a ‘cocktail’ or ‘mixology’ bar,” he says. —KAM