Are adult milkshakes a push back against the clean eating trend?

Jun 6, 2018

Replica American diners are popping up all over the UK and with this trend comes a barrage of sugar-laden milkshakes. Topped with Oreos, sweets and even doughnuts, milkshakes are having their moment in the spotlight.

Drinking milkshakes

Many restaurants are luring in customers with their tempting hybrid – the boozy milkshake, or ‘hard milkshake’. As if pastries sat atop a thick, chocolatey milkshake wasn’t tempting enough, add some craft liqueurs to the mix and you’ve got a best-seller. But in a world where health-conscious lifestyles and veganism appear to be taking a front seat, are adult milkshakes a push back against the clean eating trend?

The rise of boozy milkshakes

Once thought of as the ultimate treat, perhaps during a family outing to McDonald’s, milkshakes are now making their way onto menus thick and fast. They’re even touted as an after-dinner treat, piled high with sugary treats. However, for those who can’t be tempted by the promise of a croissant perched on a bed of whipped cream, floating on in a pool of vanilla milkshake, perhaps an added dash of bourbon might do the trick.

Alas, the industry plan seems to have worked. Millennials are quite literally queuing up to try the latest milkshakes or ‘freakshakes’, as they’ve been dubbed, and the idea of a boozy twist has drawn in customers by the thousands. A recent article by Restaurant Business Online states: “Restaurants that already offer milkshakes have it easy – all that’s needed is a little planning to pair flavours and spirits. For instance, adding bourbon to a vanilla milkshake plays up the vanilla flavours while adding a warming, boozy burn. Similarly, adding crème de menthe to a chocolate milkshake and garnishing it with some chocolate-mint cookies offers a refreshing take on a classic flavour combination. With just a little creativity, boozy milkshakes can be on the menu in no time – and customers flock to them.”

The publication backs up its argument with a remarkable statistic – 60% of consumers ordered a milkshake from a foodservice in the past month in the US, according to a recent report by Technomic. Here in the UK, the trend is very much replicated in chains like Ed’s Easy Diner, MEATLiquor and The Blues Kitchen. However we can’t help but notice that alongside this calorific trend, many restaurants and chains are shifting their creative focus to alcohol-free beverages.

Hard milkshakes VS clean living

Milkshakes

In March 2017, global restaurant chain TGI Fridays launched a new menu exclusively focused on alcohol-free drinks. Terry McDowell, TGI Fridays’ head of food and drink, said: “At TGI Fridays, we put just as much thought and care into creating our drinks as we do our legendary food.

“We also know that not everyone wants to drink alcohol on a night out, and we don’t want them to miss the fun. That’s why we’ve created a new selection of refreshing, alcohol-free mocktails for our guests; whether they want something to quench their thirst, or something that makes them feel part of the celebrations, a Fridays mocktail is the way to go.”

The focus on alcohol-free hasn’t disappeared – far from it. Businesses are thriving in the alcohol-free drinks market, with low or no-alcohol beverages stacked on supermarket shelves, and appearing on our drinks menus. As well as firm favourites like Seedlip and Bottlegreen, fresh and exciting flavour combinations are being discovered by newer brands, like Kolibri. But it seems that no matter how committed we are to a clean lifestyle, the lure of a fried chicken burger slathered in buffalo sauce with a hard milkshake on the side is too great.

London’s must-have hard shakes

We’re so fortunate to have such a diverse food scene here in London. On one street you’ll find Italian, Mexican, Indian and Vietnamese eateries, interspersed with one of our all-time favourites – American-style diners. It seems we’ve taken the best of fast food trends from across the pond as businesses in the capital are reach out to consumers with a delicious range of boozy milkshakes.

Fifty Five Bar in Camden has a short but sweet menu offering some of the city’s best hard milkshakes. Opt for the Barnamint Baileys with Oreo cookies, Baileys and green crème de menthe blended with vanilla ice cream, or the Brazilian Monk, with Frangelico, dark crème de cacao and Kahlua. If you’re after something fruity, try the Strawberry Shortcake, complete with fresh strawberries and Amaretto or the Lemon Chiffon Pie, decadently mixed with Barcardi Blanca, fresh lemon juice and chocolate liqueur.

Over at Stax Diner, you can expect tasty flavour combinations, and menu items named with a nod to American pop culture figures. Hard shakes at The Diner include the Colonel Parker, with Evan Williams bourbon, vanilla ice cream and peanut butter, the Choconaut with East London Liquor Co. rum, dark chocolate liqueur and chocolate ice cream, and the True Blue, made with blueberries, vanilla ice cream and Amaretto Disaronno.

MEATLiquor has long been famous for its mouth-watering milkshakes, and its indulgent food. If you’re seeking a boozy shake with a southern twist, try the Tennessee Maple, with maple syrup and Jack Daniel’s, or The Honey Shake, with Jack Daniel’s Honey, chocolate and vanilla. The team at MEATLiquor are so passionate about creating alcohol-laden treats, they’ve even created Jägermeister Ripple Ice Cream.

It’s clear that try as we might to commit to a life of wheatgrass smoothies and quinoa salads, every now and then, we’re quite right to indulge in some of the industry’s more decadent trends. And boozy milkshakes tick all the boxes.

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