It's perfect milkshake weather: too hot for most of the heavier classic desserts (sorry chocolate lava cake), but not so hot that you just ask for a refill of water at the end of a meal. Shakes and their close relatives, malts, are best consumed with a classic diner burger or taken to-go for a quick sweets fix. Nowadays, you can even gussy up a milkshake at one of the many spots around town that serves a boozy, adult malt. We recommend you try a couple of these excellent shakes before the mercury drops below the milkshake mark.
See also: The Best Desserts 2012 Victory 44
With this list, we considered malts, vegan shakes, boozy shakes, and everything in between. Our goal was to find the best drinkable blended ice cream drinks in the Twin Cities. It wasn't easy narrowing the list -- most reputable diners and ice cream parlors offer up a decent shake -- but these ten topped the rest.
Grand Ole Creamery is a formidable part of the ice cream scene and though it is hard to explain why one would pop in to the Grand Ole Creamery and not get something that involves their other-worldly waffle cones, if you do go beverage style, we recommend a sweet cream malt. The sweet cream's smooth buttery flavor is hard to match in the Twin Cities, and the sweetness of the ice cream complements the thicker flavor of the malted milk.
It's tough to get fresher than the Pumphouse Creamery's farm-fresh, top-notch ingredients. The Crystal Ball brand whole milk they add before blending the shake comes out of a glass container that looks like it belongs in the fifties. We recommend ordering the mint cookies and cream variety. Don't worry about being served a bright green commercial affair -- this is a vanilla-colored, minty, Oreo adventure with finely ground cookies and a perfectly smooth texture. Yum.
If this were purely a soft serve contest, Conny's might be the winner, hands down. This humble corner soft serve shack has been making around two dozen of its own flavors -- including delicious signatures like German chocolate and experimental oddballs like Pina Colada -- for years, earning the love and loyalty of its North End neighbors. Conny's super-soft ice cream is ideal to eat in shake or malt form, since it melts so quickly on the cone. The hard part comes when you have to pick just one flavor. But would Conny make you do that? No, she would not. Ask for a half-and-half marshmallow and hot fudge shake (or malt, if that's how you roll). The resulting creation has all the fun and flavor of an ethereal S'more, but without all the sticky mess to clean up after. Pro tip: All of Conny's ice cream treats are best enjoyed in conjunction with one of Conny's deep-fried ones. We're big fans of the cheese curds here, but the mac n' cheese bites come in as a close second. [page]
The folks over at Rachel's have built up a local reputation for their $10.95 adult malts. These boozy treats come in a variety of flavors, such as the Pink Squirrel, a spectacular demonstration of how to balance alcoholic and non-alcoholic ingredients. Rachel's takes vanilla ice cream and Creme De Noya, an almond flavored liqueur similar to amaretto, and combines it with Creme De Cacao, a chocolate liqueur flavored with vanilla. The booze blends into the creamy ice cream beautifully, keeping the shake from getting too strong or too sweet. If you're lucky, your server will bring over the surplus malt, top it off with whipped cream, and serve it to the other members of your dining party.
The Convention Grill is doing it all right. The servers are dressed in all-white, the fries are outrageously crispy, and the burgers are magnificent. Walking into this location you should expect nothing less than a perfectly delivered classic malt, and you won't be disappointed. A good shake should be consumed primarily with a straw, leaving the spoon for the occasional un-blended strawberry only. The Convention Grill meets that expectation, while keeping the thick milkshake tradition very much alive. This Edina diner also gets points for quantity: Even the small size was twice the size one gets at most ice cream parlors.
5. Ward 6
Rum Raisin always seems like one of those ice cream flavors reserved for old folks. But the Rum Raisin adult milkshake at Ward 6 in Payne-Phalen flips that script. This shake starts with a creamy vanilla base and blends in both spiced rum and Rumchata, the milky, horchata-inspired liqueur that was ubiquitous at parties a few summers ago. The clever soda jerks at Ward 6 finish off the decidedly grown-up creation with a sprinkle of cinnamon and plumped-up raisins for chewy texture. Is it just the Rumchata talking or are these raisins soaked in booze, too? [page] 4. Snuffy's
The original Snuffy's in the heart of Highland is one of a dying breed: the truly authentic, classic diner. Here, you'll find all the malt and shake standards, as well as some more curious choices, like Snuffy's Lime Malt. Not many think to give the Lime Malt a try -- it sounds bizarre and there are so many other great options -- but for a unique frozen dessert, there's nothing better. With only a subtle lime flavor in a thick vanilla cream base, the Lime Malt is bound to win over anyone willing to give it a chance. Plus, no matter which flavor you try, you'll certainly appreciate the superior texture of Snuffy's shakes -- a smooth and creamy consistency that never thins.
Thanks to the markedly high butterfat content in the ice cream they use (it's Chocolate Shop Ice Cream from Madison, WI) Lynden's shakes are extra thick and rich. Heading here is a go big or go home moment, so why not opt for the Fat Elvis? It's banana ice cream with salty peanut butter ripple and chocolate chips -- like a Reese's Blizzard, only everything tastes real and intense. If you're a malt fan, request a spoonful or two of malt powder in the mix. Lynden's uses the real stuff and it adds an almost sweet-umami quality to the ice cream.
2. Bad Waitress
Synthetic coffee flavor is the enemy of any java-based dessert. Fortunately, the coffee-oriented team at Bad Waitress knows this, and maintains the humble bean's integrity in their Caramella malt. Cold-pressed coffee, ice cream (try it with vegan tofu-based ice cream), and caramel blend to make a perfect pick-me-up. It's got an honest coffee taste, smooth caramel sweetness, and a very uniform texture, and the vegan option means all your dairy-free friends can join in.
This long-loved Dinkytown spot was up against some fierce competition for the top spot on our list. As delicious as the new-fangled innovations (especially the boozy ones), super premium ice creams, and locally-roasted espressos are, Annie's offers a sort of familiarity and off-the-charts comfort factor that the others can't quite match. Annie's caramel and chocolate-coffee malts are divine, but it's their oft-overlooked simple honey shake that will make you a true believer.
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