Laguna Beach puts its spin on the traditional milkshake.
A longstanding American beverage tradition, nothing says summer like a sweet and creamy milkshake: It’s the perfect treat to combat the sweltering heat. But the thick ice cream-based drink was not always that stuck-in-your-straw consistency known today. In the late 19th century, “milkshakes” were generally considered an alcoholic eggnog-like tonic or cocktail served with whiskey.
By the early 1900s, forms of today’s style of milkshakes were being made—first with milk, malt powder and syrups in flavors from vanilla to chocolate and strawberry, and later, with the invention of the electric mixer, ice cream. In the 1930s and 1950s, the dessert drink was sold at the many popular malt shops and soda fountains that epitomized youth hangouts of the period.
Decades later, inventive chefs are creating original frosty beverages that have bold new flavors, organic ingredients and even dairy-free options. For beachgoers in search of a cool-down delight this summer, Laguna Beach is home to a plethora of unique and delicious milkshakes.
The Divine Spice Chai Boba
Made from organic ingredients, workers at Urth Caffé hand blend and grind the herbs and spices in-house to make this new take on the classic milkshake. Containing no caffeine, powders or concentrates, each order of the original Urth Caffé family recipe is individually made from scratch for guests.
“We were inspired to create this shake after a tea trip to India,” says co-founder Shallom Berkman. “In India, chai wallahs are popular tea stands that serve spiced tea with milk. We wanted to create our own organic, caffeine-free version of this and—because of the popularity of milkshakes in Los Angeles—we decided to make a Divine Spice Chai flavor [of] milkshake,” Berkman explains.
To make it, Divine Spice chai tea is brewed and combined with milk, honey, vanilla and ice, then blended. “All drinks at Urth are made to order, so they can be completely customized for each guest,” Berkman says. It’s possible to have the milkshake made with soy or almond milk and it can be fully plant based upon request. The shake can also be made without honey or sugar if so desired.
The Date Shake
Possibly one of Southern California’s most iconic locales, Ruby’s Shake Shack sits cliff-side, high above Crystal Cove State Park on East Coast Highway. The beloved yellow stand has served up shakes and sandwiches to hungry beachgoers and road-trippers for more than 70 years. In 2006, Ruby’s took over ownership of the landmark, keeping some of its original menu items.
The Date Shake is a favorite at the beachside eatery, and Ruby’s carried over the selection from the previous owners. It isn’t listed on the menu, but if you ask, they’ll make it for you. Dates are bought locally from Hadley’s Fruit Orchards in Cabazon for the famous Date Shake. Each sweet treat is hand blended with real ingredients to order.
At Dolce Gelato, the favorite shake changes all the time, but one main ingredient always stays popular: espresso. Embracing that bold coffee taste, the espresso shake is made to order with any of the wide selection of ever-changing gelato varieties. “What makes us different is that our gelato is made in store from scratch,” says owner and manager Danny Baedeker. “We use the best ingredients and offer seasonal flavors throughout the year. Every Friday we put out three new flavors so there is always something new to try.” Customers can choose to have one or two shots of espresso added to their choice of three or four scoops of gelato to make the rich shake. The salted maple caramel gelato blended with a shot of espresso is also a hit among guests, but with so many options, you can request a creation to satisfy any craving.
Cora Bora Chocolate Shake
Chocolate shakes have been a staple flavor ever since the blended drink’s incarnation, but at Active Culture, fresh organic ingredients make a chocolate shake feel brand-new. “The meaning behind the shake is that Cora is my daughter’s name,” says co-owner Faye Clapp. “We named all the kid’s menu items after our own kids.” The organic Cora Bora Chocolate Shake is one of the most popular shakes on the Active Culture menu and is made with chocolate frozen yogurt, milk and cocoa nibs, all organic. The cocoa nibs add a little crunch to the shake, giving it an extra something special. The shake may be on the kid’s menu, but the flavors and ingredients are perfect for all ages.
Nut Milk Shakes
Since 1975, The Stand Natural Foods restaurant has been Laguna Beach’s prime spot for vegan fare, boasting a menu that features plant-based, cruelty-free items, including shakes. Made with an assortment of fresh fruits like pineapple, kiwi, papaya, strawberry, grapes, peaches, mangoes and dates, the dairy-free selection uses cashew milk to create its creamy texture. Both almond and coconut milk are also available upon request according to Alizabeth Arciniaga, who worked at The Stand in 1979 and recently took over ownership of the restaurant. All of the milks are made in the kitchen using raw nuts and purified water. No agave or sweetener is used to enhance the milks, only natural sweetness from added fresh fruits. Shakes can be made to order with any milk or fruit selection, but a favorite on the menu is the chocolate banana shake, which blends cashew milk, fresh bananas, organic cacao powder and chocolate chips for a healthy treat.
Written by Briana Verdugo