A good milkshake is like a time machine for your brain. One slurp and—whoosh—you’re 12 years old again, stuck inside a never-ending summer holiday where the icy poles are always cheap and people still talk via landlines. That’s the power of a good milkshake. But there’s the rub: what makes a good milkshake? And where do you get one in Melbourne?
We’re not talking about ‘Freakshakes’ here. If you want a milkshake topped with a doughnut/ fudge brownie/ double cheeseburger/ solar-powered hotdog, go elsewhere. (Here’s a good list—knock yourself out.) We’re talking about proper milkshakes. The pure breeds. Just flavouring, milk and enough ice-cream to raise the overall viscosity to cheek-puckering levels of suction.
Here are the best spots for milkshakes in Melbourne.
Grand Trailer Park Taverna
Milkshakes at Grand Trailer Park come in a tall cylindrical glass with very little frills or bullshit attached. They’re cold, they’re thick, they’re syrupy and they cost $8.50 (for the standard, non-alcoholic variety). Generally, you don’t want to muck around or experiment here, but there are a couple of ‘Top Shelf’ shakes worth mentioning.
The first is the Splice, which contains lime, pineapple, whipped cream, Plantation Rum and Midori and tastes like your Year 11 high school formal. The second is the Salted Caramel with maple bacon and a hefty glug of bourbon. We’ll forgive the slightly hipsterish bacon garnish here—this thing is highly delicious.
After extensive, lactose-heavy research, I’m giving Royal Stacks the edge over 8-Bit. But it’s close. Both are good, don’t get me wrong, but I think Royal Stacks shakes are thicker, creamier and a bit more adventurous than 8-Bit. Case in point—the new Birthday Cake Shake, complete with those worm-like, elongated fairy bread sprinkles.
Royal Stacks’ shakes come in plastic cups (black mark there, but we’ll let it slide) and are usually topped with whipped cream (bonus). It’s best to avoid the gimmicky Oreo and Snickers shakes and stick with the classics: strawberry, chocolate et al.
Boy & Co
When they opened up, Boy & Co didn’t even offer burgers on the menu. It was loaded fries and amazing milkshakes or get out. Even now, with decent burgers flying off the pass, most people just walk out holding a milkshake (or two or three).
There are 12 different shakes on the menu, and none of them rely on stupid franken-toppings or sugary fireworks. The magic here is inside the cup: think blitzed Crunchy Nut cereal with malt (Cereal Killer) or cookie batter mixed with cinnamon biscuit crumbs (Hansel & Gretel). Personally, I’m a fan of the plain old Average Joe (vanilla malt, nothing fancy).
I stumbled across Candied Bakery during some hard-core, late-night milkshake browsing. It’s an American-themed bakery in Spotswood (a suburb known for Scienceworks, milkshakes and not much else). Candied has become famous for its Apple Pie shake, which is a genuine Westside bargain at $6.50.
Think fresh-baked, cooling-on-a-windowsill apple pie, chucked in a blender with ice cream and milk and whazzed to within an inch of its life. You can actually taste the buttery pastry! Just like Mum used to make.
It’s probably fair to say that Trunk is about 15% overpriced for what you get, but what you get is still pretty bloody good. They have the official hottest hot sauce in Melbourne (we checked) and, it has to be said, some cracking good milkshakes.
They arrive in those tall American diner glasses like it’s 1953, and the classic varietals will set you back just $6, which is very reasonable for milkshakes these days. Of course, it wouldn’t be a retro CBD American-style diner without some shameless nostalgia, which is why you should pony up and try the Golden Gaytime shake ($8 flat, or $16.50 with a shot of Café Patron tequila).
I’ve got a lot of time for Parlour. The fried chicken plates are expensive, but damn you get a lot of food. I’ve never got up from a meal at Parlour and thought, “You know what, I’m still a bit peckish.” And if gigantic mounds of curly fries and Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken doesn’t hit the spot, they do an ‘Old School Choc Malt Shake’ that will blow your mind.
Even if you’re on the fence when it comes to malt (which, if you didn’t know, is a malted, dehydrated milk powder thing, developed for kids in the 1800s. Wikipedia literally defines it as ‘powdered gruel’. Nice). Last pro Parlour tip: Pale Ale onion rings. That is all.
Rowena Corner Store
They don’t get much more legit than this place. Rowena Corner Store has been selling milkshakes for 60 years. They use Vulcano Gelato (made in Melbourne), cold full-cream milk and bunch of housemade syrups (the recipes for which they guard more fiercely than Col. Sanders).
A lot of Instagram types will gravitate to the Seven Deadly Sins thickshake (which is you classic freakshake/diabetes-inducing monstrosity), but I reckon their simple shakes are the best. Classic strawberry, Sir lamington (with real blended lamington bits), and the very potent Morning Alfred (vanilla shake with a double shot of espresso). These guys even do proper old school spiders, just like Johnny Rockets used to make.
To be honest, there’s a thousand great places for classic shakes in Melbourne. The above are just some of our favourites. Here’s a few that were unlucky not to make the top shelf.
- Massive Wieners | Prahran
- The B.East | Brunswick
- Grigons & Orr Corner Store | North Melbourne
- Ruby’s | Coburg
- Pattysmiths | Flemington
- Tuck Shop Take Away | Caulfield North
You might need a burger to go with that shake, here are Melbourne's best burgers.
Image credit: Urban List Brisbane