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Boozy Nostalgia: An Open Letter To Alcoholic Milkshakes 

click to enlarge Bowlero - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Bowlero

For some, the idea of hooch and dairy might make them queasy. Given that milk might make for an unpleasant evening, but for those with an iron gut, a high-tolerance for lactose or just an insatiable craving for a milkshake, we know where you can jack up dessert with a little bit of tequila ... or vodka ... mezcal works ... even beer. Read on for where to find these boozy, creamy creations around town.

Much to the chagrin of my waist and my dentist, I've got a bit of a sweet tooth. So it stands to reason that I'd be jazzed for saccharine desserts that also happen to be fully loaded with some sort of spirit.

My first foray into the world of boozy shakes and cocktails was some years ago at Alamo Drafthouse. Though menus vary from theater to theater, a few staples persist such as the stout shake, usually made with thick Guinness and a few scoops of vanilla ice cream. The porter shake is similar enough and at $7-$8, found under "Adult Shakes," is definitely just as filling as any other item menu. The selection is plenty to work with but the release of blockbuster flicks calls for fun specials from the kitchen like a strawberry and cheesecake bite shake during May's Pitch Perfect 2. Aca-scrumptious, indeed.

The nostalgia kicks into high gear at Bowlero (13307 San Pedro, 210-496-3811) where bright arcade games, a ropes course and glow-in-the-dark bowling lanes are paired with a full bar. At $9 each, the shakes aren't cheap, but they're stacked with Stoli vodka.

I grabbed a seat along the massive bar, found the "Spiked Milkshakes" menu and ordered a favorite combination of mine — literally anything salted caramel. Cheekily labeled as a "Salt & Caramel, Push It Real Good," the shake was a combination of vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup, caramel sauce and Stoli Salted Karamel, topped with fluffy whipped cream and served in a frosty Mason jar mug. Though not overwhelmingly sweet, all things considered, the dessert is nuanced.

The shake options abound at Bowlero, where you can find almost as many activities as you can menu items. The Sticky Icky PB&J (Stoli's Sticki honey-flavored vodka, vanilla, grape jam, creamy peanut butter and whipped cream) also got the job done but did have me wishing the peanut butter had been chunky for once. And there was still more to try in the "Big Coconuts & I Cannot Lie" and "Naughty By Berry." I'm saving it for next time if I bowl higher than a 140.

If the neon lights and Bowlero's sheer size is a turnoff, I'd suggest visiting Olmos Bharmacy (3902 McCullough Ave., 210-822-1188), one of the few soda fountains left in town where you can still get malts made to order while sitting on quaint swiveling stools. Go for the Guinness shake with chocolate ($6) instead of vanilla for darker notes that bounce off the rich beer. Split it with a beau and take in one of the live acts lined up weekly.

The youthfulness of alcoholic shakes has also trickled into the cocktail scene. At Alchemy Kombucha and Culture (1123 N. Flores St., 210-320-1168) the dairy of choice is yogurt that's used to make their popular mango lassis. Creator Javier Gutierrez wanted to keep along with the culture portion of the restaurant.

"I had been messing around with yogurt cocktails while experimenting with the menu at Brooklynite," Gutierrez said.

"Considering that we were going to start incorporating fermented tea into our cocktails when we started our project with Alchemy, using a cultured product just made sense," he added.

Paired with one of their spicier dishes, the lassi — mango puree, yogurt, turmeric, black cardamom and mint — turns into a great pairing, and it's just as good on its own for dessert.

Another bartender tinkering with milky cocktails is David Naylor of Park Social (224 E. Olmos Drive, 210-822-0100), who recently experimented with a cookies and cream concoction using pecan milk infused with chocolate chip cookies, blended and strained to create a cereal milk-like flavor, and topped with rum, bourbon and simple syrup over crushed ice. The cookie garnish was a nice touch.

At Mezcalería Mixtli (5313 McCullough Ave., 856-630-5142), bar manager and co-owner Jesse Torres wanted to offer a cute beverage that reminded folks of a simpler time. The layered and smoky drink, which combines Del Maguey Crema de Mezcal, evaporated and condensed milks, vanilla and cinnamon is part rompope, part horchata and full-on flavorful. The tiny clay jarrito it's served in makes this drink one of my favorites around.

DIY Boozy Shakes: 4 Adult Desserts We're Making

Boozy Key Lime Pie Shake


  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • ¼ cup lime vodka
  • 2 cups vanilla ice cream
  • 1/3 cup whipping cream
  • ½ cup of crushed graham crackers, for garnish
  • Whipped cream, for garnish

How to:

Mix the ice cream, milk, vodka and cream in a blender until smooth. Stir in graham crackers after blending and pour mixture into chilled glasses. Top with whipped cream and crushed graham crackers to taste. Serves 3-4.

Kahlua Cookie Dough Milkshake


  • 2 cups cookie dough ice cream
  • 1 cup cookies
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 ounce Kahlua coffee liqueur
  • Crumbled cookie for garnish

How to:

Combine cookies, ice cream, milk and liqueur in a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into glass and garnish with crumbled cookies to taste. Serves 2.

Salted Caramel Milkshake


  • 1 cup French vanilla ice cream
  • 1/3 cup dulce de leche caramel sauce
  • 1 ounce 1800 Tequila silver
  • 3 ice cubes
  • Whipped cream, sea salt and orange peel, for garnish

How to:

Blend ice cream, dulce de leche caramel sauce, tequila and ice cubes in blender on medium speed until thick and smooth. Pour mixture into glass and top with whipped cream, sea salt and a candied orange peel. Serves 1.

Coffee Liqueur Milkshake


  • 1 ounce coffee-flavored liqueur
  • 1 ounce whipped cream-flavored vodka
  • 2 cups chocolate ice cream
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional

How to:

Add all ingredients into blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Pour into glass and top with extra espresso powder to taste. Serves 2.

Modified from,,


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