Milkshakes make a comeback

Jill Dupleix
Drink up: Double chocolate and peanut butter shake.
Drink up: Double chocolate and peanut butter shake. Photo: Edwina Pickles

What are they?

Everyone of a certain age knows what a shake is - you just put fresh milk, syrup and ice-cream together and shake. They're back with a vengeance as part of the American diner food trend, but without the icky sweet syrups and fake cream toppings of last century. Now its all about artisanal syrups, house-made ice-cream, and organic milk - pure, simple and unadorned. Form an orderly line, people.

Where are they?


At Grigons & Orr Corner Store in North Melbourne, the first thing new owner Michael Young did was to fix the broken milkshake machine. "You need a good, gutsy motor," he says. Young serves the shakes in old-school stainless steel cups, and tops them with hundreds and thousands. "They're more popular with adults than with kids," he says. "We even do a Tim Tam shake, with crushed Tim Tams, caramel and chocolate syrup."

At the popular San Churro chocolaterias across town where "anything is possible with enough chocolate", Spanish couverture chocolate is put to good use in a Choco Loco shake of dark chocolate with chocolate ice-cream and the best seller, peanut butter and milk chocolate. Fitzroy's Belle's Diner, which has more than a touch of the 1990s TV series Twin Peaks about it, keeps things simple and classic with just a chocolate malted and a coffee shake on offer. And all syrups are made in-house at Three Bags Full in Abbotsford, from the strawberry to the caramel. "Commercial syrups are generally very sweet and often have additives," owner Nick Kenos says. "We use fresh strawberries for our strawberry milkshake, and Jonesy's milk, so it's not as sweet, but it's beautiful."


At Zinc Café in Potts Point, the gleaming Hamilton Beach milkshake machine churns house-made syrups and ice-creams into shakes all day. "They've gone ballistic," says co-owner Nigel Nickless. "We started doing them for the kids, but now it's the adults who order them." 

It's the same story at Dan McGuirt's Jazz City Milk bar, where the peanut butter milkshakes turn grown-ups into giggling gerties.

Surry Hills' chefs Warren Turnbull and Grant Astle do just the one  shake at their Chur Burger pop-up, in the lane-way behind their Albion Street Diner. "We use only Heilala pure vanilla for the ice cream and the syrup"  Astle says.

At The Milk Bar by Cafe Ish, Josh Nicholls makes up his own syrups, his own ice creams and his own names, from Very Vanilla to the PBJ (salted peanut butter ice-cream, crunchy peanut butter, raspberry and blueberry jelly).


The salted caramel milkshake has achieved cult status at Surry Hills' cafe Reuben Hills, but the espresso and white chocolate shake gets my vote, made from single-origin beans roasted on the premises. "It's very moreish, and it doesn't leave your palate too coated" says head chef Joey Ingram. His tip? "Work only with flavours you already like, and really think about the ice cream and what it brings to the party."

Why do I care?

Because your inner child is telling you to. Now.

Can I do them at home?

You bet. Make your own syrups, search out a beautiful ice-cream and use any form of blender or whizzer to blend. Best tip? Make sure everything is cold, even the glasses.

Sourcing it


Bells Milk Bar of Broken Hill sells its famous original-recipe syrups online at

Grigons & Orr Corner Store, 445 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne, 0487 608 489

Three Bags Full, corner Nicholson and Mollison streets, Abbotsford, (03) 9421 2732

Belle's Diner, 150 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, (03) 9077 0788

San Churro (various store locations),


Bell's Milk Bar of Broken Hill sells its original recipe syrups online at

The Milk Bar by Café Ish, 1/105 Regent Street, Redfern.

Reuben Hills, 61 Albion Street, Surry Hills 9211 5556

Zinc Café, 77 Macleay St, Potts Point 02 9358 6777

Jazz City Milk Bar, Republic 2 Courtyard, Palmer St, Darlinghurst 8354 1776

Chur Burger, Beauchamp Lane, Surry Hills (Tues-Fri 11am-2pm)

San Churro (various store locations),

See also Excelsior Jones in Ashfield, the Butcher's Block in Wahroonga, Parry's Milk Bar in Caringbah, and Cornersmith in Marrickville.

Make it

Double chocolate and peanut butter shake

This makes more chocolate syrup than you will need, which is a good thing.

400ml cold milk

4 scoops chocolate or vanilla ice-cream, softened

For the chocolate syrup:

150g castor sugar

75g unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

300ml cold water

2 tbsp peanut butter

2 tsp vanilla extract

1. To make the chocolate syrup, combine the sugar, cocoa powder and water in a pan and bring to the boil, whisking until smooth. Whisk in the peanut butter and vanilla extract and simmer for one minute until syrupy. Leave to cool, and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 10 days.

2. For the milkshakes, make sure you have chilled serving glasses at the ready. Place the milk, ice-cream and 1 tbsp to 2 tbsp of the chocolate syrup in a blender and whiz until smooth and frothy. Pour into the glasses and serve with old-school straws.

Makes 2

TRENDING Cocoa nibs. Cacao bean kernels are dried, roasted and crushed into little brown nibs, ready to add crunch and bitter-sweetness to biscuits, desserts, breakfast granolas and ice-creams.