Unusual flavors shake things up

Want a frothy, sweet, confection that's perfect for the balmy days of spring and summer? Then shake up your taste buds with the cold, creamy goodness of a milkshake.

The Baltimore region is home to a plethora of ice cream parlors, restaurants and diners that feature shakes for most every palate. Retro malted milkshakes. Classic chocolate and vanilla shakes. And exotic varieties made with ingredients like spinach or nuts. Come along as we sample 10 milkshakes from Baltimore to Annapolis, with stops in between.

The spiked shake

The Abbey Burger Bistro, 1041 Marshall St., 443-453-9698, abbeyburgerbistro.com.

At this bustling Federal Hill eatery, burger toppings run the gamut from crabmeat to an egg, sunny side up. Their milkshakes are equally kicky.

"We use three to four scoops of Gifford's ice cream in our spiked shakes," says co-manager James Hollands. "The bartenders make them using an old-fashioned milkshake machine."

The Berger shake, made with fudgy Berger cookies, has numerous fans, he says. The recipe also blends vanilla ice cream, Stoli Vanilla and Godiva liqueurs. Other shake flavors include the Creamsicle (the ingredients include whipped cream, flavored vodka and orange juice) and the Incredible Hulk (pistachio ice cream, Gran Marnier and brownie chunks). "Yes, we do card if you order the shakes," says Hollands. "But we can make nonalcoholic versions."

The malted shake

You Scream Ice Cream, 821 Frederick Road, Catonsville, 443-636-5008, ysicecream.com

How's this for a taste of nostalgia? A malted milkshake, made with hand-dipped Hershey's ice cream, malt powder and milk.

"It takes you back to an earlier time," says proprietor Rhonda Chase, whose Catonsville ice cream shop is a family affair. The cozy carryout sells retro candy and soda pop, snowballs, Italian ice and fruit smoothies. It shows classic movies while customers wait on orders. The malted can be made with a dozen or so flavors, ranging from chocolate and vanilla to white cherry. "We add whipped cream and give long spoons so you can get every bit from the bottom," Chase says.

The candy shake

Maggie Moos, 821 S. Broadway, 410-342-8399, maggiemoos.com

As the weather warms, throngs of tourists and local residents alike stand in line at this Fells Point shop for frosty treats. "Our ice cream is made fresh in the store every day," says owner Suketu Sonecha. Milkshakes are made with "Moo Milk" (a milk and cream blend) and nearly two dozen flavors, inclujding Creamy Coconut, Pink Peppermint and Irish Coffee. There are myriad "fixins" like Oreo cookies and candy bars. One specialty shake to try: the "Peanut Butter Smoo" with chocolate ice cream, marshmallow, crushed peanut butter cups and whipped cream. "It's becoming a best-seller," says Sonecha.

The fruity shake

Azure, Westin Hotel, 100 Westgate Circle, 410-972-4300, westin.com/annapolis

Who knew that off the lobby of this upscale chain hotel in historic Annapolis, delectable milkshakes await weary travelers? At the Westin's restaurant, Azure, the ice cream is freshly made in house, and milkshakes are made to order. The menu offers five flavors, including toasted marshmallow and a blueberry with bits of fruit. "We do sell some shakes at lunch, but quite a few at night," says restaurant manager Tim Carlson. "It's a nice dessert before bedtime."

The traditional shake

Double T Diner, 4140 E. Joppa Road, Perry Hall, 410-248-0160, doubletdiner.com

It's no surprise that the milkshakes are delightfully old-fashioned at these eight family-run diners, around since the late 1950s. A bygone era is celebrated with fountain-made ice cream floats and soda pop, egg creams, banana splits and sundaes. But hands down, chocolate shakes are the favorite, says manager Mark Elsaid. "We use three scoops of French vanilla ice cream, chocolate syrup and milk." Whipped cream and sprinkles complete the nostalgia.

The do-gooder shake

Uncle Wiggly's, 1401 Forge Ave., Baltimore, 410-433-6300, taharkabrothers.com

Thanks to ice cream flavors like salty caramel, honey graham and black cherry chunk, milkshakes are one of a kind at Uncle Wiggly's in Mount Washington. Also unique: the newly opened shop (with a sister location near Towson) exclusively carries ice cream from Taharka Brothers, a local company with a socially conscious business model. "We have a factory in Clipper Mill, and our workers are urban youth between the ages of 18 and 22," says Sean Smeeton, president of the Sylvan Beach Foundation Inc., the nonprofit behind the venture. "They're young people who are learning entrepreneurship and leadership." Meantime, the resulting product also tastes good, says store owner Lee Smith. "Some weeks we sell 200 to 300 milkshakes a day. They're delicious."

The veggie shake

Dominion Ice Cream, 3215 N. Charles St., 410-243-2644, dominionicecream.com

Mom always told you to eat your vegetables. Now you can get them in a milkshake at this Charles Village ice cream shop.

Flavors include carrot, sweet potato, cabbage, beets, cucumber, tomato and butternut squash. For the less adventurous, there's traditional Hershey's ice cream and ice cream cupcakes.

"Our spinach is the most popular," says owner Donna Calloway. Shakes are made simply, she adds: with milk and veggie ice cream, all whipped and blended by a milkshake spindle. "It's got vitamins and antioxidants," she notes, "but you still get that great ice cream experience."

The gourmet shake

B&O American Brasserie, 2 N. Charles St., Baltimore, 443-692-6172, bandorestaurant.com

Among the many innovative menu items at this Baltimore restaurant connected to Kimpton's Hotel Monaco, Executive Chef Thomas Dunklin has created a sweet potato cashew milkshake. Served in a tea cup with a sugared rim, it's accompanied by Dunklin's house-made Red Velvet Doughnuts with cream cheese frosting. "We roast the sweet potatoes, puree and add a bit of cream and eggs, a little whole milk and the cashews," says Dunklin of the thick shake. "It's a nutty, buttery taste — slightly sweet, but still savory." The dessert has been such a hit, Dunklin is now considering a gourmet milkshake menu for summer.

The soft-serve shake

Cindy's Soft Serve, 6330 Washington Blvd., Elkridge, 410-796-3344

Open April through October, this seasonal stand off U.S. 1 sells an array of soft-serve cones, sundaes, snowballs and milkshakes. Cindy Quick, who launched the operation in the early '90s and later sold it to her father, Claude Sacker, believes soft-serve milkshakes are superior because of their "sweeter, thicker consistency." While chocolate shakes are big sellers, fresh banana shakes with chunks of fruit also win raves. "And sometimes people will bring their own [fruit], like fresh peaches to make a custom shake," she says.

The colossal shake

Chick & Ruth's Delly, 165 Main St., Annapolis, 410-269-6737, chickandruths.com

Long a go-to spot for Maryland politicians, this bustling eatery has attracted a whole new clientele with its six-pound milkshake and "Colossal Shake Challenge." "We use half a gallon of milk and the shake itself is 119 ounces," says proprietor Ted Levitt, who serves the drink in a huge glass bowl with 13-inch-long straws. "A lot of the midshipmen from the Naval Academy and other area college kids enjoy challenging each other."

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