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What’s better than a milkshake? How about a milkshake spiked with bourbon? Many restaurants—especially burger joints—have been experimenting lately with some creative takes on that classic comfort beverage, creating versions that are strictly for adults. At BRGR Bar in Portsmouth, bar manager Sheridan Cudworth, has been mixing everything from Fruity Pebbles with marshmallow and clementine vodka to pretzels and bourbon into a vanilla ice cream base with great success.

“It’s really fun to watch people turn into little kids again,” Cudworth says. “They get really pumped about the prospect of a milkshake.”

Inspiration can strike in unusual places. When a customer asked for key lime pie for dessert—at a restaurant where the only sweet finish on offer is a milkshake— Cudworth got to thinking. After several tries to balance the bright acid of fresh lime juice with coconut rum and marshmallow (for a thicker custardy consistency), she wound up with the key lime pie milkshake, with bracing citrus flavors and a rim of graham crackers held in place with marshmallow.

“Marshmallow is our best friend at BRGR Bar,” Cudworth says with a laugh, noting that they coat the pint glasses ahead of time and chill them before adding the milkshake.

The key lime was her second pie-themed creation, joining an apple pie milkshake offered last fall, spiked with house-infused apple bourbon. “It’s fun to experiment,” Cudworth says.

Burgers and milkshakes are a classic combo, but it takes a pretty big appetite to polish off one of BRGR Bar’s 16-ounce frozen concoctions alongside a sandwich piled with locally sourced ground beef along with everything from mac ’n’ cheese to short ribs, notes Carolyn Dagostino, director of operations—which is not to say people don’t try. One customer polished off a burger and three milkshakes. 

“Some people can ace all of it, and they are heroes to me,” Dagostino says. However, she cautions that mere mortals might want to split a burger and each get a milkshake, or just share a poutine—the BRGR dish comes classic style with Maine cheese curds and gravy, with optional short ribs or egg.

“Fries and a milkshake are always a good combination,” Dagostino says—though Cudworth likes to dip fries into a chocolate milkshake for that salty-sweet combo. 

Whether you want to try that or not, really, says Dagostino, it’s hard to go wrong when mixing alcohol and ice cream—dark spirits or flavored ones will usually give the best results, but don’t be afraid to experiment. 

“With a good base of vanilla ice cream, you can’t fail.” 


Sea Salt Caramel Pretzel Milkshake (For Adults)

> 12-14 oz. vanilla soft serve (or leave regular vanilla ice cream out of the fridge for 10 minutes or so)

> 2 oz. crushed pretzels

> 1 oz. caramel

> 1 pinch of sea salt

> 2 oz. spiced rum (substitute 1 oz. milk for a virgin milkshake)

1. Add all ingredients to a blender and mix. Thin with milk as desired.

2. Serve in a 16-ounce pint glass rimmed with caramel and a whole pretzel for garnish.



34 Portwalk Place, Portsmouth, New Hampshire