Every summer the big quickservice chains expand their frozen drink offerings with cool LTOs and this season is no exception.
Impossible to ignore is McDonald’s latest and coolest: Frozen Strawberry Lemonade. The burger giant has been flogging its new addition to the McCafe line in print advertising, on TV and through social media channels, including a Twitter contest featuring cash and coupon prizes. McDonald’s extensive frozen beverage lineup already includes Triple Thick Shakes, Frappes, Smoothies and McFlurries. Reportedly a Mango-Pineapple Smoothie will launch later in the season.
One of the more high-octane summer debuts is Dunkin Donuts’ Mountain Dew Coolatta. Made from the caffeinated, neon-hued soft drink, this latest Coolatta joins Dunkin’s six-flavor lineup. In addition, the donut chain retails a Frozen Iced Tea and Frozen Lemonade.
Cookies are big this summer. Arby’s has added Oreos to its popular Jamocha Shake. Sonic goes one better with a Double Stuf Oreo Sonic Blast, which joins the regular Oreo version in the six-flavor Blast category.
Starbucks expanded its already lengthy Frappuccino line with the new Mocha Coconut. To promote the category, Starbucks is running a contest in which guests create their own bespoke Frappuccino and merchandising poster to match; the grand prize is a trip for two to Starbucks’ Liquid Lab at company headquarters.
Unique take on summer shakes
We’ve taken shakes over the top, given them the ‘wow’ factor,” says Dan Reineke, general manager of Go Burger in Manhattan, one of two Go Burger stores plus a truck, operated by New York-based ESquared Hospitality.
Fanciful names like Twinkie Boy, Monkey Business and Aztec Mocha merchandise these creamy concoctions. They feature ingredients unusual in shakes, such as peanut butter and jelly and cayenne pepper. Twinkie Boy is an inventive mix of the eponymous Twinkie snack cakes, ice cream and caramel syrup. Adults-only shakes incorporate spirits like bourbon, rum and tequila with ice cream, syrups and liqueurs. The Nut Job mixes Frangelico with pistachio ice cream and Nutella.
Reineke reports his recently opened store sells about 500 shakes a week—so far. The cool, wet spring had a dampening effect on sales but “milkshakes are beginning to really pick up,” he says. “We started the whole spiked shake trend five years ago. Now you see them at other places. So we raised the bar again with Adult Floats.”
Unique to Go Burger, this frosty float category combines top-shelf spirits with artisan soft drinks topped with scoops of ice cream or sorbet. The Cuba Libre Float, for example, mixes Bacardi Silver Rum and Boylan’s Cane Cola with a float of vanilla ice cream, garnished with lime. “The Adult Floats are selling really well,” says Reineke.
Tops among kids are the Cookie Monster and the Lunch Box milkshakes. Adults go for Grandma’s Treat and The All-Nighter—the latter packs a shot of espresso as well as liqueurs. But the biggest seller among customers of all ages is the Mocha Mudslide.
Reineke and his team are always dreaming up new creations. A recent special of the week was a Flan Shake—house-made flan, spiced rum, ice cream and a touch of sweetened condensed milk. He is also experimenting with a gelato shake and has plans for a nondairy “milkshake.” Says the GM, “I think there’s a market for a vegan shake.”
Menu sampler from Go Burger
Specialty shakes $7
Twinkie Boy: Vanilla Ice Cream, Twinkies, Caramel Syrup
Cookie Monster: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream, Chips Ahoy Cookies
The Lunch Box: Vanilla Ice Cream, Peanut Butter, Grape Jelly
Spiked milkshakes $11
Grandma’s Treat: Maker’s Mark Bourbon, Caramel, Vanilla Ice Cream
The All Nighter: Kahlua, Bailey’s, Espresso, Coffee Ice Cream
Aztec Mocha: Herradura Silver Tequila, Coffee Ice Cream, Cayenne Pepper, Chocolate Syrup
Adult floats $12
Double Barrel: Elijah Craig Bourbon, Virgil’s Root Beer, Vanilla Ice Cream
Dark & Frozen: Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, Reed’s Ginger Brew, Vanilla Ice Cream
South of the Border: Tanteo Jalapeño Tequila, Gruet Sparkling Wine, Lime Sorbet