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Sweeten beverage sales with drinkable desserts

Photograph: f'real foods

Restaurants who want to shake things up and offer their customers memorable and social media-worthy menu choices may want to consider drinkable desserts. As a dessert, a drink seems a bit more fun than a sugar-laced wedge of cheesecake or pie.

Typically made from recipes combining ice cream, milk, flavorings and mix-ins, drinkable desserts are not to be confused with your everyday vanilla milkshakes. Operators are combining innovative ingredients—and sometimes even desserts themselves—to create these craveable options. And with innovative equipment, such as f’real blenders, these items are easier than ever to add to menus.

The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen at Universal Orlando Resort lists a drool-inducing menu of dessert milkshakes in varieties such as strawberry cheesecake (sour cream ice cream, cheesecake, graham crackers, whipped cream and a chocolate-dipped strawberry), red velvet (vanilla ice cream, a red velvet cupcake, raspberry sauce, rainbow sprinkles and whipped cream) and peanut indulgence (peanut butter ice cream, Snickers, Reese’s peanut butter cups, peanuts and whipped cream). The average price for these shakes, about $12.50, is about 50% higher than standard desserts at the restaurant, which can mean increased check averages for operators.

 Opportunity for over-the-top Instagram sensations

Pastry chefs in recent years have blurred the boundaries between traditional desserts and shakes to the point that many drinkable desserts are literally a mashup, which makes for great social media possibilities. Black Tap Burgers & Beer in New York City, for example, earned a devoted following and plenty of Instagram buzz for its over-the-top “crazy shakes”—mile-high versions piled with cookies, peanut butter cups, cotton candy, colorful cereal and other high-impact additions. Café Hollywood in Las Vegas sells a standard strawberry milkshake for $7 but also offers a Strawberry Big Bang Supernova version—that same shake topped with a slice of birthday cake and sprinkles—for $16.

Adult milkshakes are another possible interpretation of this trend. Kaminsky’s Dessert Café, with locations in Columbia and Charleston, S.C., offers more than half a dozen themed shakes along with boozy versions including a Bananas Foster (with Topper’s vanilla banana cinnamon rum), a Wake Up Call (with espresso and Bailey’s Irish Cream), a Dreamsicle (with Svedka Orange Cream Pop vodka) and a Key Lime Pie (with KeKe key lime liqueur and Licor 43).

Aside from milkshakes, nostalgic soda fountain favorites such as ice cream sodas and root-beer floats also have a solid fan base and don’t require any special equipment—just an ice cream scoop, a tall glass or mug and a few common ingredients. Adding signature touches such as seasonal flavors or house-made root beer and ice cream ups the value proposition on these classics. Hearth Wood Fired Cuisine in Virginia Beach, Va., serves a boozy Jack Daniel’s Root Beer Float, a mug filled with vanilla bean ice cream, a shot of Jack Daniel’s Whiskey and Not Your Father’s Root beer.

For operators, liquid desserts offer another potential bonus: They combine classic nostalgia with a contemporary edge. Almost everyone has a favorite milkshake memory or experience from when they were growing up, which taps into pleasant memories. Combine that with a spectacular contemporary twist, and it’s easy to turn a customer’s “no” into a “why not!” Upgrading an everyday milkshake to an indulgent treat also fetches a premium price. Together, these have the potential to sweeten dessert sales. And best of all, they don’t need to involve purchasing costly equipment with a large footprint. With f’real blenders, operators can offer drinkable desserts that come together in a snap and require almost no clean-up.

Offer your customers the drinkable desserts they’re craving and enjoy increased check averages without additional labor or cleanup—a win-win situation.

This post is sponsored by f’real foods

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