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Beverage

Boozy milkshakes get customers bellying up to the bar

Sidling up to the soda shop counter for a milkshake used to be a special occasion, but nowadays, they’re available and enjoyed just about anywhere—as an after-dinner dessert, piled high with cookies, candy and other toppings and even with something a little extra for the grown-ups: alcohol.

Boozy milkshakes aren’t new, but they’re becoming more and more popular—in fact, according to Technomic’s MenuMonitor, liqueurs are one of the milkshake ingredients that are growing and poised for mainstream success.

Perfect for diners who want to indulge in a milkshake and want an extra kick, today’s spiked shakes go far beyond the mudslide. In these versions, the alcohol is less of a base ingredient and more of an add-on: these milkshakes would be mouthwatering with or without their hard edge—although that’s an undeniable draw for many of the diners choosing them.

For operators who want to add boozy milkshakes the menu, it’s thankfully an easy task. Spirits can be added to existing milkshake offerings, and operators can jazz things up with just a few extra steps—besides the cost of the liquor, there’s virtually no added cost to take on when adding these to the menu.

Updating existing offerings

Restaurants that already offer milkshakes have it easy—all that’s needed is a little planning to pair flavors and spirits. For instance, adding bourbon to a vanilla milkshake plays up the vanilla flavors 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 flavor combination.

 With just a little creativity, boozy milkshakes can be on the menu in no time—and customers flock to them. According to Technomic’s recent Beveragereport, 60% of consumers ordered a milkshake from foodservice in the past month. Could that number increase if diners had more opportunity to order boozy milkshakes?

Creating unique, signature drinks

Technomic’s Beverage report finds that 54% of consumers are more likely to purchase beverages that are handcrafted or housemade, and 21% are willing to pay more for them. Speed-scratch boozy milkshakes can increase check averages in this way—with a ready-made milkshake base and added toppings or flavorings, operators can create signature shakes that come together in a snap, especially with equipment such as the B7 foodservice blender from f’real foods. As a bonus, these types of beverages can be sold for more money

Some craveworthy options available at restaurants now include the Key Lime Pie shake, spiked with coconut rum, at Ted’s Bulletin in Washington D.C.; the Lavender Fields milkshake at Denver’s Sassafras American Eatery, which features mixed wild berries, house-infused lavender gin and vanilla bean ice cream; and Holsteins, a chain with locations in Las Vegas, Portland and Orange County, California, offers up a Campfire Smores shake, with Smirnoff marshmallow vodka, chocolate, marshmallow and graham cracker crumble.

Happy hour options

People love to toast the end of a hard day’s work at happy hour, but milkshakes aren’t traditionally thought of as something people want at 5 p.m. With a little of the good stuff mixed in, though, happy hour promotions can soar. Here, simpler shakes can shine, as they may appear as less of a dessert and more of a cocktail. Think of options like a blended White Russian milkshake, made with vanilla milkshake base, Kahlua and vodka, or a chocolate milkshake martini, blending ingredients like chocolate liqueur and caramel and serving in a swanky cocktail glass.

For operators looking to dive into the world of boozy milkshakes, the customer base is there—it’s all about figuring out what a restaurant’s audience will enjoy most—do they flock to classic dishes like burgers and fries? If so, a boozy malt may whet their whistle. But if they’re looking for something a bit more unique, signature shakes are where the money might be at. No matter what flavor is customers’ favorite, one thing’s for sure: boozy milkshakes aren’t going anywhere.

This post is sponsored by f’real foods

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