Photo by Adriana Grant
Seattle's been inundated with new ice cream shops, and I went looking for an old-school favorite among all the salted/salty caramel


Seattle's Top Five Milkshakes

Photo by Adriana Grant
Seattle's been inundated with new ice cream shops, and I went looking for an old-school favorite among all the salted/salty caramel flavors: the vanilla malt. I didn't always find it.

Here are my results, in order of preference, with consideration given to both taste and texture. My aim: a not-overly-sweet frozen drink, without syrupy additives -- just milk, ice cream, and malt -- that is thick enough to create slow progress up a straw.

1.Cocoa & Cream

This teeny, bubble-gum pink ice cream shop in Magnolia -- which you may never have heard of -- won top honors. Using Snoqualmie Gourmet ice cream, Cocoa & Cream makes a mean shake, with the malt powder visible in crystals throughout. You might have to wait in line behind a gaggle of wet-haired kids, but the wait's worth it for this drinkable treat. Cocoa & Cream opened in April of last year. Their only crime: serving their shake with a spoon, not a straw. (If I wanted to spoon, I'd have gotten a dish. You can, however, get yourself a straw.) The straw is what makes a shake the indulgence it is. It's walkable, one-handed, sweet sipping. Plus, they offer a small, a rare thing in the world of shakes: $4 for a 10-ounce shake (pictured above), $6 for a ginormous 20-ouncer.

Photo by Peter Mumford
2. Molly Moon's Ice Cream

Molly Moon's comes in second place because its super-rich shake (huge, a venti, shown above, $5) was just a bit thin. Molly Moon's organic, housemade ice cream makes an indulgent shake, but the ratio of milk to ice cream was a little lopsided, not quite generating the thick texture of an old-fashioned shake. At the Capitol Hill location, they've got the Carnation malt powder sitting on a shelf, so there's no worry that you'll be sipping plain vanilla. You can choose to sit with your shake just across the street at Cal Anderson Park, on real or astrograss.

Photo by Adriana Grant
3. Dilettante

If Dilettante carried malt, they'd trump Molly Moon's hands down, because they use Molly Moon's ice cream, but more of it. (This, may be what made this shake the priciest on the list, at $6.) My shake was the perfect straw-worthy texture, thick and delicious. They lose points for no malt, though I was told it might be on the way... And yes, that is whipped cream on top.

Photo by Adriana Grant
4. Red Mill Burgers

Red Mill uses soft-serve for its shakes ($3.19 for this one), but it whips up a thick concoction that'll bring you back to the shakes of your childhood. You might not, however, be able to finish one, if you opt for a burger first. Although this isn't really the kind of place where you'd stop for just a shake, consider it, because they've got shakes worth the trip. For those strawberry shake lovers out there, Red Mill uses whole (albeit frozen) strawberries, so you'll get actual straw-clogging pieces of berry in your shake.

Photo by Adriana Grant
5. Bluebird Homemade Ice Cream & Tea Room

I wanted to like Bluebird's milkshake ($5.50) more than I did. Its house-made (mix-less) vanilla ice cream was delicious, gorgeously speckled with the dots of a vanilla pod. Only Bluebird doesn't do malts. The man who (very slowly) made my shake told me he's been trying to convince his boss to stock malt, so maybe that'll be on the menu soon. This was another not-huge shake, maybe 12 ounces. Also, like the Molly Moon's shake, it was delicious, but just a touch thin. I had the feeling they're still figuring out the recipe.

Photo by Adriana Grant.
(Dis)nonorable Mention:

Dick's Drive In

Dick's comes in last because they used to have perfectly passable vanilla malts ($1.90), but when I stopped by the Broadway location, the woman behind the counter told me the vanilla was "pre-malted." Was not. She handed over a plain vanilla milkshake, with no subtle malty flavor to up the complexity. However, Dick's $2 shakes still deserve a mention for cheap, slurpable instant gratification.

Honorable Mention: Full Tilt Ice Cream

Full Tilt doesn't make milkshakes with its house-made ice cream in White Center. At the new Columbia City shop, there was a frappe machine in sight, but it had received the wrong heads, so milkshakes and malts won't be served for another week. You'll have to stop by to make sure. But if Full Tilt's salty caramel is any indication -- a touch less salty than Molly Moon's, with more burnt-sugar flavor -- this place is certainly worth a revisit.

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