Shamrock Shakes are not delicious. Please don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
The green concoctions McDonald's rolls out about a month before St. Patrick's Day—regular ol' vanilla-flavored carrageenan plus some minty green goop—look better than they taste. And they don't look great, even though Mickey D's now pours them into fancy plastic cups and tops them with whipped cream and a cherry.
Like so many St. Paddy's traditions that are not especially awesome—food coloring in beer, corned beef from a crock pot, Flogging Molly—the Shamrock Shake is unimpeachable by tenure. Over its 42 years, the shake even had its own semi-racist mascot, Uncle O'Grimacey, a green blob in the shape of the normally purple Grimace. This year, for the first time, Shamrock Shakes are available at every McDonald's in America, until March 25.
People joke about salvaging the Shamrock Shake with booze, but no one seems to know how to best accomplish the task. Until now. We bought two shakes and tried them with four mixers: Guinness stout, Jameson whiskey, Bailey's cream liqueur and good old-fashioned Smirnoff red-label vodka.
Vodka stored in a freezer would blend seamlessly into the shake. Our warm vodka didn't really improve the shake, but it also didn't ruin it. The big knock on vodka is that it isn't in any way Irish—very few vodkas and none of the big-selling vodkas are made with potatoes these days.
Bailey's Irish Cream
Bailey's is a blend of whiskey, cream and coffee, tracing its illustrious history back to 1974. It's not especially Irish. It is especially gross. Also, Bailey's only has half as much alcohol as regular liquor and twice as many calories. It does not work well in a shake.
Jameson Irish Whiskey
Distilled in Cork, Ireland, Jameson is the world's best-selling Irish whiskey. It was a great mixer, but also made us wonder why we were bothering to blend it since this spirit is fine as it is.
We used a bottle of real (brewed in Dublin!) Guinness to make a bastardized shandy/float thing. The mixture produced a giant foam head compared to the other beer floats you'll find around town. We found the correct proportion is slightly more shake than beer, so don't expect much of a buzz.
The proper way to spike a Shamrock Shake
Jameson Irish Whiskey, at a ration of one-to-four. "It's Irish, it tastes like Jameson and it tastes like a Shamrock Shake."