You’re in the mood for an adult beverage, but also your sweet tooth is crying out because you’re feeling extra indulgent. Then you step outside, and it’s hotter than the surface of the sun.
Yep. It’s time for a boozy milkshake!
While the process is easy to tackle on your own, it requires more than simply adding a shot to your favorite creamy concoction.
Rebecca Bills knows a thing or two about the ins and outs of spiking a shake. She’s the Executive Pastry Chef of Holsteins, located in The Cosmopolitan on the Las Vegas Strip. While the bovine-themed eatery slings top-notch burgers, the restaurant’s coolest offerings are its over-the-top Bam-Boozled Shakes. Frosty, highly Instagrammable, and liquored up, there’s perhaps no better beverage suited for Sin City.
But if a trip to the Nevada desert isn’t in the cards, just follow her expert tips for crafting the perfect boozy milkshake at home.
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Even though they’re called milkshakes, Bills recommends leaving extra leche out of the mix. When it comes to dairy, ice cream is all you need, and you’re going to want to use a whole pint of it. (There’s a reason why splitting a milkshake is a thing.)
Before blending, allow the ice cream to soften, but make sure it doesn’t melt. Though you may be tempted to whip up an extra stiff shake, your liquor addition shouldn’t be more than a shot. “Anything over that and it’s just going to be a flavored milk,” Bills cautions. “It’ll get too runny. That’s something I always have to warn the guests if they’re asking for two, three extra shots in the shake. We’ll try to suggest that they have that on the side.”
Use a blender with a strong motor (especially if you’re adding in firm ingredients) and keep the mixing to a minimum. “If the ice cream is the right texture and you’ve let it temper a little bit, it would probably take no more than 20 seconds on a high speed blender setting,” says Bills.
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Ice Cream and Alcohol Pairings
Vanilla ice cream is the primary base for most of Holsteins’ creations—this is a case where being basic is actually a benefit. According to Bills, it works well with liquors of all stripes, particularly bourbon. “They make really good complementary partners,” she says, noting the whiskey’s “oaky sweetness” is the perfect match for vanilla’s “mellow creaminess” as this Old Fashioned Milkshake proves.
Bills enjoys working with chocolate ice cream as well, particularly when she’s adding a shot of rum (if you prefer vanilla try a Dark ‘n’ Stormy Milkshake), stout beer, or the coffee liqueur-tequila hybrid Patron XO. Fans of coffee and vanilla should abide by The Lebowski Shake.
Flavored vodkas are also a go-to for Bills and she’s particularly fond of using the bubble gum variety with watermelon sorbet. (For another vegan option try this Amaretto Sour Shake made with lemon sorbet).
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Holsteins also uses vodka infused in-house with all manner of ingredients from Cap’n Crunch to candy corn. Something soft like cereal will infuse overnight, but be sure to use cheesecloth to effectively strain the liquid to remove any solids. Harder materials will need a few days to work their magic.
Why stop at just one boozy addition? This recipe blends vanilla bean ice cream with bourbon AND stout, though go easy or you may end up seeing double.
There is, however, one popular spirit that Bills avoids. “Gin is challenging,” she says. “If you think about it from a mixology point of view, how many gin cocktails have dairy in them?”
As if it wasn’t fun enough to get buzzed on drinkable ice cream, you can add more tasty treats to the party. “The ideal add-ins are cake crumbs, crushed up cookies. Cereal works really well,” per Bills. Chocolate is always a welcome addition, and this Guinness Milkshake incorporates a double dose of cocoa: semi-sweet shavings along with a swirl of syrup.
DON’T use gummy ingredients. “Things like that will just muck up the blender blades,” Bills warns. “Once it hits that cold ice cream, it gets even more resistant.” They’re perfectly fine to throw on as a garnish, though.
DO pre-process your mix-ins before you add them to the blender. Crispy cookies, almonds, even hard candy such as toffee are excellent additions, but chop them up a bit the old fashioned way. “So they get a head start,” says Bills.
Bills also recommends that if you’re using cake crumbles, dry them out in the oven just a little bit. “You’re not toasting it, but you want to take a little bit of the moisture out so that it blends more easily and doesn’t get gummed up around the blades at the bottom of the blender.”
As for portions, Bills throws in somewhere between four to six tablespoons of added ingredients per milkshake.
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Here’s where you can let your imagination run wild, but allot extra time for any additional flourishes you want to add your shake.
“To be honest, the garnishing takes longer than the milkshake-making,” Bills confesses.
She recommends freezing your serving glass before adding the window dressing. Just prior to pouring the shake, frost the rim and gently roll it in an extra ingredient or two —crushed nuts, cookie crumbles, minced candy pieces.
After filling the glass, spiral a dollop of whipped cream and carefully give the beverage a final touch of whimsy. In the case of Holsteins best-seller Cookies & Cream, it’s a mini-ice cream sandwich, while Campfire Smores is topped with a toasted marshmallow (of course) to go along with a multitude of chocolate and graham cracker accouterments.
Be sure to do this step immediately before serving, or the garnish could fall through the whipped cream and into the shake—you wouldn’t want that on your social media.
Now all that’s left is to come up with your perfect pairing. But before you start shaking things up, just remember…resist temptation and be judicious with the booze!
Related Video: How to Make the Perfect Shake Sans Alcohol