By Madeline Monaco, TheDailyMeal.com
(USA TODAY) Milkshakes are true American classics - chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry have the power to transport us back to diner days or hot summer afternoons. But creative, more decadent variations prove that milkshake makeovers can be just as satisfying. Whether they choose classic or novel versions, Americans have been indulging in milkshakes for more than a century, often breaking diets, but always satisfying cravings. The milkshake's origins can be traced back to the late 19th century, when an 1885 newspaper described the milkshake as a sturdy drink with milk, whiskey, eggs, sugar, and ice. It wasn't until 1922 when a Walgreens employee in Chicago, Ivar "Pop" Coulson, took an old-fashioned malted milk and added scoops of ice cream. This new creation boomed in popularity nationwide throughout the 1930s, and milkshakes became staples at malt shops.
Today, the restaurants, diners, and ice cream parlors on this list are serving the best milkshakes around. When deciding which milkshakes to include, we took into consideration the quality of the ice cream (made in-house was a plus in our books), the variety of flavors offered (who could say no to the Speculoos shake at Edzo's Burger Shop?), and the history of the institution that serves them.
Unfortunately, Americans' retro love for milkshakes is often overshadowed by creative adult drink options. That's why places like Lunchbox Laboratory offer boozy shakes, served with a test tube of alcohol to appeal to the kid and grown-up in all of us.
But beyond all of our criteria, the milkshakes had to be blended to creamy perfection in order to join the ranks of some others we've loved. So if you're traveling this summer or just need a suggestion for a shake nearby, we hope we can guide you toward a delicious, irresistible milkshake to cool you down.
1. Franklin Fountain, Philadelphia
With decorative tin walls and ceilings and the building's original porcelain mosaic tile floor, Franklin Fountain shows no signs that before its opening in 2004, the turn-of-the-century building had been a shop called Eroticakes selling evocative lollipops and baked goods. Today, the Berley brothers have turned it into an old-fashioned soda shop. Named for Benjamin Franklin who began his adult life just blocks away, the shop aims to exhibit "forgotten flavors of the American past," according to its website. Homemade Franklin Ice Cream was first served in 2006, and the shop has come a long way since the original Philadelphia vanilla bean flavor, offering 21 flavors every day like cherry vanilla, teaberry gum, and green tea, as well as seasonal sorbets, sugar-free flavors, non-dairy ice creams, and featured flavors. Any flavor can be made into a shake, like the Franklin mint chip shown here. A true example of American history and small business, The Franklin Fountain's homemade ice cream makes their shakes extra tasty.
Shake to Try: Franklin Mint Chip
2. Fenton's Creamery, Oakland, Calif.
A creamery that has been around for 119 years sure knows how to keep its customers thirsty for more. That's definitely the case at Fenton's. Focusing on tradition and quality, the Fenton family wants to provide its customers with only the best ice cream and shakes. There are more than 30 "fabulous flavors" like banana nut and mocha almond fudge and occasional seasonal flavors like apple pie and eggnog. With shakes like these, it's no surprise customers have been coming back for generations.
Shake to Try: Eggnog
3. Edzo's Burger Shop, Chicago
Edzo's Burger Shop squeezes customers into tables and chairs as others at the counter order classic hand-dipped shakes, blended with milk and add-ins like Oreos, peanut butter, or bananas. The website refers to this simple burger shop's shakes as "nothin' fancy," but daily experimenting with shake flavors often results in specials, so be sure to ask for off-menu shakes like The Elvis, Speculoos, and the Fluffernutter. And if you want a fruit flavor, make sure it's in season - they only use local, seasonal fruits like strawberries, peaches, and blackberries.
Shake to Try: Speculoos
4. Bassetts Ice Cream Company, Philadelphia
Since 1861, Bassett's Ice Cream Company has been providing the Philadelphia region with delicious homemade ice cream, making it America's oldest ice cream company. A fifth-generation family business, its customers have included Dr. Phil and President Obama. With more than 40 ice cream flavors, the milkshake possibilities seem endless. The top 10 most popular flavors include vanilla, chocolate, butter pecan, and English toffee crunch. Shown here is one of their most popular specialty shakes: the Peanut Butter Dream, a base of Bassetts peanut butter ice cream blended with crushed peanut butter cups and topped with whipped cream, peanut butter syrup, and chocolate drizzles.
Shake to Try: Peanut Butter Dream
5. Lexington Candy Shop, New York City
Greeted with a historical Coca-Cola window display, customers at the Lexington Candy Shop are promised a unique experience. Just blocks from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the luncheonette's waiters in white jackets have been blending Bassetts Ice Cream of Philadelphia's classic vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and coffee shakes since 1925. On May 31, 2013 CBS Local News rated this old-fashioned shop as home to one of the best milkshakes in New York City. With a variety of classic flavors, you'll feel like you've been transported to a soda fountain with a jukebox playing in the background.
Shake to Try: Classic Strawberry
6. Lunchbox Laboratory, Seattle
With Lunchbox Laboratory's expansion in 2011 came the growth of its concept of nostalgic Americana comfort food with an off-the-wall twist; the quirky restaurant is decorated with vintage lunchboxes and thermoses. It was named Best Milkshake of 2012 by Seattle Weekly News, and with the diner's use of local Snoqualmie Ice Cream, homemade chocolate ganache, and only the best ingredients, there's no question why shakes like Boston Crème Donut took home the prize. For grown-ups, there are also four signature "Boozy Shakes," served with a test tube of booze that complements the flavor of the shake. Perfect chemistry!
Shake to Try: Almond Joy
7. Ted's Bulletin, Washington, D.C.
Two sons opened Ted's Bulletin in their father's honor, and the brunch hot spot has become a real standard in Washington, D.C. The family restaurant is filled with booths and also offers counter-service. From the bar, you can see workers mix up the 16 shake flavors, including s'mores, caramel macchiato, and heath almond, while adults can indulge in the White Russian and Nutty Professor (with hazelnut liqueur) boozy versions. Faithful customers are happy to hear that Ted's is opening another location in D.C.
Shake to Try: Heath Almond
8. Max Brenner, New York City
Getting "Chocolate by the Bald Man" is a New York experience. Max Fichtman and Oded Brenner combined their names and founded Max Brenner in 1996 in Israel. With a New York location right in Union Square, Max Brenner has a variety of options, from crepes to chocolate pizza to chocolate syringes. And a restaurant that bases itself in chocolate is bound to have great milkshakes. Shown here is one of Max Brenner's 11 shakes, the Pure Chocolate Granita, a shake of milk chocolate ganache blended with ice. All of the shakes at the restaurant - including the Coconut White Chocolate Truffle, Cookieshake, and Eighties Milkshake flavors - are served in the signature Alice Cup.
Shake to Try: Pure Chocolate Granita
9. Burger & Beer Joint, Miami
Burger & Beer Joint is a unique restaurant that's a little bit of motor culture and a little bit of rock 'n' roll. It first opened its doors in 2009, and followed with a second location just a year later. There are 69 different bottles of beer offered, but customers have a different favorite drink: the chocolate shake. Thick and creamy and not too sweet, this shake at B&B proves worthy of a trip to the Miami joint. They're also known for their five adult milkshakes, such as the Spank the Monkey (pictured) with rocky road ice cream, fresh banana, UV Cake Vodka, Bols banana liqueur, and whipped cream.
Shake to Try: Spank the Monkey
10. Sassafras American Eatery, Denver
Sassafras American Eatery has served organic comfort food influenced by Southern American cooking since 2012 from its sleek, wooden picnic table environment. And their milkshakes are racking up the accolades; Denver Westword recently named the full-service restaurant and bakery's handmade milkshakes the best of 2013. The 20 unique flavors include Oreo, Cap'n Crunch, Twinkie, Grasshopper, and Chocolate-Dipped Bacon. Even on cold Denver days, the flavor variety and homey ambiance of this stop make it well worth potential frostbite.
Shake to Try: Chocolate-Dipped Bacon
11. Saturn Café, Santa Cruz, Calif.
Saturn Café offers traditional diner food with a vegetarian, organic twist. It first opened its doors in 1979 with owners who were looking to create a community gathering place with a commitment to social and environmental justice. Their milkshakes are made with McConnell's premium ice cream (though vegan shakes are also available) in classic flavors. After choosing an ice cream base, customers can choose from shake add-ins like chocolate cookie crumbs, berries, and organic peanut butter to make their shakes unique. The interior is an outer-space take on an old-fashioned diner, colorful and entertaining enough to bring along the kids.
Shake to Try: Dutch Chocolate with Organic Peanut Butter
12. FLIP Burger Boutique, Atlanta and Birmingham, Ala.
FLIP Burger Boutique is a modern, upscale spin on the average burger joint from chef Richard Blais, winner of Bravo's Top Chef All-Stars. Blais has created a menu with a twist on classics, and his five unique milkshakes include the Krispy Kreme, Strawberry Shortcake, and Foie Gras (yes, really). The best part? You can add a shot of vodka or Kahlúa to three of the shakes if you're looking for a boozy treat. The modern, sleek interior is a higher-end take on a classic burger joint interior; diners can sit at communal tables or at the counter, providing a unique and sociable experience.
Shake to Try: Foie Gras
13. Bareburger, New York City
Bareburger will put the mind of the health-conscious eater at ease. As stated on its website, "Our belief is that organic food tastes better and is better for you, and that sourcing our ingredients locally benefits our communities." To accompany their burgers, there are Bare Shakes, made with organic ice cream, milk, and fruits. Are all gluten-free and come in six flavors such as vanilla, peanut butter, and banana. With locations across three boroughs and Long Island, some with outdoor seating and all with plenty of room indoors, Bareburger is the perfect stop for a burger and shake.
Shake to Try: Peanut Butter
14. Chile Pies (& Ice Cream), San Francisco
Trevor Logan has been putting his own spin on a classic pie shop since Chile Pies' 2011 opening. The bakery serves sweet and savory pies mostly inspired from Logan's time in Santa Fe, N.M. The classic shakes are made with organic milk, and there's even a vegan option available. What's special about this place, though, is that a plain shake can be vamped up by blending in a piece of any one of the sweet pies, whose flavors change from season to season. Though the pies are the main attraction, the unique twist on a classic milkshake is worth saving room for.
Shake to Try: Country Peach Pie Shake
15. Bruxie, Orange, Calif.
In 2009, Bruxie owner Dean Simon took his waffle recipe to chef Kelly Mullarney and the two came up with the idea for an all-day waffle. A Bruxie became a sandwich between two Belgian waffles, but with Orange County Weekly's vote as the best milkshake of 2012, the kid-friendly joint has another claim-to-fame. There are five standard shake flavors like vanilla and Belgian chocolate, four premium shakes like mocha and chocolate-covered banana, and one seasonal favorite, like the must-try pumpkin shake.
Shake to Try: Pumpkin