You’re in Montgomery, the capital of Alabama. It’s hot. You want a milkshake. Your Google search of the terms “Montgomery Alabama milkshake” provides, not information about which establishments have tasty ice cream-based concoctions, but rather, information about revolting sex acts. It’s time to change all that.
The Montgomery Advertiser’s rankings of the best milkshakes in Montgomery have Hardee’s at #1, Chik Fil A at #2, and Dairy Queen at #3. As with many of Grandma Advertiser’s “best of” rankings, we totally disagree. We hereby offer you a breakdown of the ultimate truth of the milkshake landscape and we crown a legitimate winner of the title of Best Milkshake in Montgomery.
Chick Fil A – (915 Ann St.) – Loathsome purveyor of advertorial concentration camp humor. Georgia-based chain owned by right-wing super Christians. Refuses to sell food (and milkshakes) on Sunday because of ancient traditions regarding rest dating back to book of Genesis. Still, we were told by a trusted source that the peach milkshakes were “just like home-made ice cream.” We got one peach and one chocolate. Unless you are into 7-11 diabetes-inducing “Mega Gulp” sizes, take the small. Small is still plenty big. Both came with whipped cream and cherry on top. The price is good. For two, we spent $3.50.
The peach was not “just like home-made ice cream.” It had good little giblets of peach in it, and was pleasant, extremely sweet but not cloying, and easy to drink through a straw. The chocolate was better, even though it didn’t have a super rich chocolate flavor. Overall they balanced thickness and flavor, didn’t seem to be full of artificial ingredients (though we’re sure they were), and were affordable and good. The texture was nice and it didn’t melt too quickly. Stephen gave them between a 6.5 and an 7 out of 10, and Kate rated them an 6.
Sonic – (2025 Carter Hill Rd.) – You drive in and order at the box. They bring you your stuff. Easy & straightforward, and you don’t need to idle your car. No, really. Please don’t. We went to the Sonic at Montgomery’s Worst Intersection™ – the absurd chaos of the place where Carter Hill meets Narrow Lane meets Mulberry. We ordered caramel and chocolate. The caramel was really good – nice and thick, with a caramel flavor that wasn’t overpowering or chemical-ly. The chocolate wasn’t too rich and was a bit thinner. Both were good and more than enough shake comes in the small size. Sonic offers a variety of frozen & ice cream treats, as pictured in the menu here. Kate gave them an 6.5 out of 10 – they were very good, but lacked that “wow” of a really great milkshake. Stephen rated them an 6.
Bruster’s – (6835 Vaughn Rd) – Stephen ordered oreo. Kate ordered strawberry cheesecake. The list of flavor options is dazzling. The Bruster’s shakes put the emphasis on the milk. They’re creamy and thick, but also have the ice crystals that add that “milkshakey” texture. It flows through the straw easily. There’s no aftertaste. The prices are reasonable. The only complaint is that a “regular” is quite large and is too much for a person us to drink in a single sitting. Then again, with Alabama the second fattest state in the nation, many people probably think that these milkshake are too small. They are delicious. Almost certainly the best in the city. 9 out of 10.
Zolo’s – (2055 Carter Hill Rd) CLOSED – We really wanted to write this place up.
Marble Slab Creamery (7929 Vaughn Rd) – This is the one in the Hellscape, over near the Rave movie theater. We had high expectations for our chocolate shake, if only because it seems unfair for the purposes of competition to compare a milkshake that costs $5 to one from a fast food place costing less than $2. Yet, here is a case where the extra expense does not befit the resulting product. Not worth the time, money and effort.
In particular, I really didn’t like watching the preparation process. The bored lady behind the counter started by pouring some kind of clear mystery fluid from an unmarked bottle. This stuff (simple syrup?) went into the mixer before the milk. Gross. I do not want mystery liquids in my shake. The use of real ice cream is good, but the end result is way too thick. You can’t pull it through the straw. Further, there are no tasty ice crystals, so you basically have your giant cup of mostly-solid ice cream, whipped through with suspicious liquid, and you’ve got to wait for it to melt or go at it with a spoon. Oh, and there’s a slight coating on your mouth lining after you’ve decided you’ve had enough. Glop, glop, glop, pass. 4 out of 10.
Cold Stone Creamery (7240 East Chase Parkway) – I had Milk and Cookies. She had Lotta Caramel Latte. Our description of both: “outstanding.” The purchasing process is quite an exercise in pretension. We cracked up about how the advertising signs use three umlauts to spell German Chocolate Cake. There are three sizes, each linked to desire: You’ve got the $4.09 “like it,” the $4.49 “love it,” and the $4.99 “gotta have it.” No word on future plans for a $7 “will kill for milkshake” size. But we do commend the Creamery for being able to monetize the distance between like and lust. Hey generations of poets, suck it. The answer is $1.
The PB&C (peanut butter and chocolate) flavored milkshake at the Creamery made headlines recently for being equal in nutritional content to 68 pieces of bacon. Yes, really.
End result of driving to the Hellscape and waiting on these shakes? Tasty, but it’s no Bruster’s. 8 out of 10.
Dairy Queen (Atlanta Highway) – These are sort of the baseline archetypes of the modern Montgomery milkshake. The ice cream is better than very good, verging on great. It’s that soft serve stuff you know so well from your trips to the DQ. But the flavors aren’t eye-popping. Sure, you get a few other choices when ordering, including pineapple, but our ultimate reactions to the chocolate and strawberry were mixed. On one hand, they were quite good and really improved our mega-hot day. On the other, we had to drive a good way to get them and were somewhat nonplussed with the power of the flavor. The chocolate was the better of the two but did not have an especially rich taste. The strawberry did have tasty bits of berry (risking straw clog), but it was just that packaged, probably once-frozen “berry sauce” stuff they keep in the tub next to the fudge and other toppings. We decided that the shakes were great, but probably not as good as the more famous DQ offering, The Blizzard. And yet, the shakes made us happy to the point that we were delighted to be writing reviews of milkshakes, even as we said that no decent shake could be worse than the DQ baseline. Rating? 6 of 10.
Flip’s Uptown Grill (Atlanta Highway) – We’ve never actually set foot in the Uptown mainstay that is Flip’s (check that hilarious website). We’ve heard they have good breakfast food, but we were there for one reason only: a Jiggle. That is what Flip’s calls the small size milkshake they serve. We were not entirely sure how to react to this news, much less how to react to the Flip’s employee who seemed dead set on forcing us to say the word “Jiggle” into the order box. Finally we just mumbled something about how we wanted two of those, one chocolate and one vanilla. The size-that-shall-not-be-spoken is actually perfect. The shakes themselves are great. They taste like milkshakes, not just whipped up ice cream. The chocolate could have been more chocolate-y, but otherwise we liked our, um, milkshakes just fine. The difference between these and the Bruster’s shakes could be chalked up to a difference in ice cream, but Flip’s does use the ever-reliable and tasty Bluebell, so it’s a close call. Quite tasty, although next time we’ll just say, “give us your smallest size” and take it from there. 7 of 10.
Hardee’s — Hardee’s is one of those fast food milkshakes that used to be like, well, average fast food milkshakes. The kind you grow up on. They used to come in the same sizes as the drinks. And you’d have your basic trifecta of flavors: chocolate, vanilla, strawberry. Well, some marketing jerk got a hold of the Hardee’s brass and told them that they needed to specialize and start advertising “hand-dipped shakes.” Now, they only offer one size and have tripled the cost of shakes. Thing is, aside from serving them in new kinds of plastic cups and spraying some whipped cream on top of them, they sort of taste the same as they used to. And that’s not good. Our recent order (a strawberry without whipped cream) turned our conversation to the oil dispersants being used in the Gulf by BP — as in, what they may taste like. The shake, stunningly voted the Best in Montgomery, by the readers of Grandma Advertiser, tasted like a coagulated sugar carpet. This made us think about Krusty the Clown’s notorious fast food franchise from The Simpsons, where instead of milkshakes they sell patented Krusty Partially Gelatinated Non-Dairy Gum-Based Beverages. 3 of 10.
McDonald’s — We did not sample the McDonald’s milkshakes.
Final rankings (in order): Bruster’s, Cold Stone Creamery, Flip’s, Sonic, Chick-Fil-A, Dairy Queen, Marble Slab, Hardee’s