Original Vanilla Milkshake Recipes Were Intended As Alcoholic Drinks

Classic vanilla milkshake
Classic vanilla milkshake - Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Step aside, mudslide. Believe it or not, the original spiked ice cream treat was none other than the good old-fashioned vanilla milkshake (gasp). When you think about extra ingredients to add to your shake, whipped cream or chocolate drizzle might come to mind. But, early 20th century soda fountain connoisseurs had whiskey on the brain (and we can't blame 'em).

The earliest known recorded milkshake recipe appeared in 1885, calling for cream, eggs, and whiskey. A neutral spirit like vodka would've taken a backseat to the frosty, creamy flavor. Whiskey, eggs, and dairy, on the other hand, made for a punchy beverage with the dark spirit at the front of the palette. The eggnog-esque adult drink more closely resembles a spiked New York egg cream than today's platonic milkshake ideal (although, some of the best milkshakes can still be found in NYC).

By the turn of the century, the public idea of the milkshake was evolving toward the flavored ice cream treat contemporary fans know. Vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry syrups were added into the mix by the early 1900s. The drink had to be vigorously shaken by hand until the drink mixer was invented in 1911 by appliance company Hamilton Beach. Proto-milkshakes make shaking the infamous Ramos Gin Fizz look like no big deal — modern bartenders got nuthin' on 1900s ice cream slingers. (Insert curmudgeonly "they don't make 'em like they used to" comment here.)

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Vintage Vanilla Shakes Didn't Even Include Ice Cream

1950s soda fountain counter
1950s soda fountain counter - H. Armstrong Roberts/classicstock/Getty Images

When the blender was invented in 1922 by Stephen Poplawski, the owner of Stevens Electric company, milkshakes quickly became a fixture at soda fountains and ice cream parlors nationwide. Dedicated "malt shops" began cropping up around the 1930s as social meeting points for students after school hours. In 1949, the milkshake (sans booze) was added to Dairy Queen's menu, thus breaking onto the fast food scene for the first time. The vanilla milkshake even earned the shorthand colloquial nickname "white cow," signifying its popularity and cemented position in the American mainstream culture of the 1950s.

It's ultimately unclear exactly when or why whiskey (and, less excitingly, eggs) fell out of the ingredients mix. The Prohibition Era rocked the U.S. in 1920, two years before the invention of the blender, which could have something to do with the rise of the ice cream-forward shake. Although, this historical coincidence is little more than speculation. Either way, a recipe printed in the Atlanta Constitution (via Art of Drink) titled "Milk Shake" published on May 17, 1886, includes milk, sugar, and flavored syrup, shaken vigorously over crushed ice in a tin can — strikingly similar to the modern milkshake recipe and pointedly omitting the whiskey just one year after the original boozy milkshake recipe was printed in 1885.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.