Summer Is Fading, but Its Flavors Don’t Have To. Try a Boozy Milkshake From Any of These 10 Restaurants Serving Them Year-Round.

Yes, the alcohol-laced shake is still alive and well at diners, cafes and burger shacks across the Portland metro area.

Primal Burger Salted Caramel Irish Coffee (Allison Barr)

Does it feel as if you blinked and now summer is nearly over? You’re probably not alone.

From the chilly, damp conditions that kept us hunkered down indoors until July to soaring consumer prices that made even a jaunt to the coast a wallet-walloping affair to news of yet another outbreak (thanks, monkeypox!) while everyone seemed to be coming down with their second or third case of COVID, our summer barely got started. And now we’re staring down Labor Day weekend, marking the season’s unofficial conclusion.

But we’ve got some good news: The flavors of summer don’t have to fade with the diminishing daylight. And few treats are as emblematic of days marked by sizzling temperatures and loosely defined schedules than ice cream. And booze. And whipped cream and sprinkles and cherries.

Yes, the alcohol-laced milkshake is still alive and well at diners, cafes and burger shacks across the Portland metro area. As a way of extending a summer that turned out, overall, to be pretty tepid, we rounded up 10 restaurants where you can get your spiked-shake fix—and temporary mood booster—any time of year. Because who doesn’t break into a grin when they see a giant goblet of blended ice cream topped with a 3-inch swirling stack of Reddi-wip drizzled in chocolate syrup?

Rally Pizza Rally Pizza. Photo courtesy of Rally Pizza. (sue obryann} )

60′s Cafe & Diner

19358 SW Boones Ferry Road, Tualatin, 503-427-2227, 11 am-8 pm daily.

Unless you frequent Tualatin, you probably didn’t know that the 60′s Cafe—a Lincoln City institution and popular tourist destination—opened a second location at the tail end of 2021. The restaurant is tucked into a strip mall just out of sight from the main thoroughfare, and only a pair of posts on the business’s Instagram account announced the spinoff. The new diner offers a nearly identical experience to the original—from the red-and-white vinyl chairs to the classic cartoons playing on TVs. That goes for the boozy shakes ($9) as well. Both restaurants serve eight adult flavors, but the salt, sugar and smoke in the John Wayne Caramel Whiskey is too good to pass up. Two scoops of Umpqua Dairy vanilla ice cream get run through the mixer with 2½ ounces of liquor, which is served in a Mason jar-style mug. Tawny ribbons of caramel streak the inside of the glass, and a snowy mound of Reddi-wip serves as a pillowy cushion for a maraschino cherry. “Everyone gets to do their own flair,” my server says of the milkshake artists. “They won’t always look the same, but they’ll always taste the same.” Which, in the case of the John Wayne, should be as smooth and balanced as the oaky bourbons collected by Duke himself. ANDI PREWITT.

60's Cafe 60's Cafe. Photo by Andi Prewitt.

Backyard Burger Company

18750 Willamette Drive, West Linn, 503-387-3989, 11 am-10 pm Monday-Saturday, 11 am-9 pm Sunday.

The strongest shakes in the Portland metro area are tucked away in a strip mall next to a karate dojo and an abandoned McDonald’s. Like many neighborhood pubs, the Backyard Burger Company serves American staples that revel in excess, like double-bacon burgers and bottomless fries. Its boozy shakes are milky, frothy and, like its food, supersized: Each is served in a tall beer stein and topped with whipped cream and sprinkles. They are large enough to be a meal, light enough to suck up through a thin straw, and boozy enough to make happy hour extra memorable. At $15 a pop, they’re also the most expensive in this roundup. I settled on the Irish coffee, a shake that results in an intense, caffeinated sugar high before an alcohol-fueled crash. All four of Backyard Burger’s shakes are blended with either flavored liqueurs or fruit-based vodkas and hand-pump coffee shop syrups that get the job done. EZRA JOHNSON-GREENOUGH. Photo by Allison Barr

Blue Moon Diner

20167 SW Tualatin Valley Highway, Beaverton, 503-746-5794, 7 am-9 pm daily.

On a stretch of TV Highway, where it looks like the string of auto repair shops, convenience stores and half-abandoned strip malls will never end, you’ll suddenly spot this beacon in the back of a sparsely populated parking lot. The gleaming chrome exterior of the 1930s-style, prefab Blue Moon Diner is directing you to dishes that are country fried and smothered in gravy, all-day breakfast, and no fewer than 17 milkshake flavors ($6.99), to which you can add any type of booze ($6-$7). Lean into the nostalgia and order something that reminds you of childhood. For me, that’s a flared sundae glass of cookies and cream, a Dairy Queen frozen birthday cake go-to for its textural delight: chomping little bits of black wafer as soft serve dissolves on the tongue. My server recommended Bailey’s as a spiking agent, which boosted the sugary milkiness of both the ice cream and Oreo filling. It’s a combo only the sweetest sweet tooth can finish, but thanks to an abundance of dime-sized bitter chocolate cookie chunks, I managed to get through about two-thirds. If you order the same, ditch the straw. This shake is better attacked with the long metal spoon that comes with your overflow cup. AP.

Blue Moon Diner Blue Moon Diner. Photo by Andi Prewitt.

Dick’s Primal Burger

4905 SE Woodstock Blvd., 971-229-0786; 4120 N Williams Ave., 503-208-3414; 11 am-9 pm daily.

There’s nothing primal about the boozy milkshakes that this local burger chain offers at its two Portland locations. Dick’s prides itself on organically sourced ingredients as well as a menu that includes gluten-free, paleo and vegan versions of diner classics, but consideration for dietary needs doesn’t necessarily result in a satisfying shake. The “Adulting Milkshakes” ($9) actually taste more like a drink that would come with a kids’ meal. While thick in consistency, the two flavors are less creative than a Dairy Queen Blizzard. The Oregon Special has all the charm of a homemade Nesquik and generic ice cream concoction, with the special Oregon ingredient being a hazelnut liqueur that contributes little in the way of alcohol or flavor. The salted caramel Irish coffee is a little more fun, reminiscent of a Starbucks eggnog latte spiked with Irish cream, but it could be improved by a heavy pour of Irish whiskey and a dry, roasty stout instead. These boozy shakes aren’t going to float anyone’s boat, but could do in a pinch with a few burgers to go. EJG.

Primal Burger Salted Caramel Irish Coffee (Allison Barr)

McMenamins Cornelius Pass Roadhouse

4045 NE Cornelius Pass Road, Hillsboro, 503-640-6174, 11 am-10 pm Sunday-Thursday, 11 am-11 pm Friday-Saturday.

When McMenamins made its first batch of Ruby in 1986, Oregon’s modern craft beer era was just getting started, and it became the entryway beverage for many. While drinkers’ tastes have evolved since then, the ale remains one of the brand’s pillars, so it’s only natural the chain found a way to incorporate Ruby in a milkshake ($10.50). McMenamins uses old-fashioned spindle blenders to combine vanilla ice cream from Eugene-based Cascade Glacier with the beer, mixing for approximately three minutes. Ruby is already made with 42 pounds of Oregon-grown raspberry puree, which sounds like a lot but only results in a subtle fruit flavor in the ale. To punch up those notes in a shake, the kitchen adds a custom-made jam, which is either so fresh or just that well preserved, you’d never guess you weren’t slurping whole berries crushed minutes earlier. Now, this milkshake won’t be winning any beauty contests. It’s more beige than pink, served in the same unadorned pint glass as the beers, and doesn’t come with a single squirt of whipped cream. But if you’re here for the flavor, the smack of tartness and gush of sweet berry will more than satisfy. AP.

Pacific Standard

100 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 971-346-2992, 3 pm-midnight daily.

Acclaimed bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler put barrel-aged cocktails on the map at Clyde Common, but also made the often-derided grasshopper into a work of art thanks to the addition of ice cream at the late, great Pépé le Moko. So I was eagerly anticipating what he had in store for us in the way of boozy shakes at his new bar, Pacific Standard, on the ground floor of the upscale Kex Hostel. I was half expecting an elevated take on a basic dessert pastry, and no one would be disappointed with a standard bourbon brownie shake with well whiskey. But Pacific Standard doesn’t settle, and instead combines the desert and dessert by using Coachella Valley’s signature drink as inspiration. The Palm Desert Date Shake ($12) dresses up a familiar vanilla bean ice cream base by weaving in rich, jammy dark fruit flavors from the region, which is home to numerous date farms. From there, you travel to the Mediterranean via a sweet, oaky Spanish brandy whose warmth tempers the cold, along with a Pedro Ximénez sherry that adds layers of coffee, raisins and cocoa. The crème de la crème is a generous swirl of housemade cinnamon-agave date syrup that, despite the drink’s temperature, will spice up your night. EJG.

Pacific Standard (Aaron Lee)

Portland Burger

304 SW 2nd Ave., 971-242-8725, 11 am-8 pm daily.

“We don’t serve our milkshakes,” a staffer at Portland Burger proudly tells me, “we parade them through the lobby.” And if any shake deserves such pageantry, it’s those made by this downtown rock-themed restaurant. The chalkboard menu lists a whopping 24 varieties, and each one is as striking as the whimsical characters in the Mario DeLeon murals that practically leap off the walls. Here, the booze-infused milkshakes ($11.06) are as much the work of the customers as they are the employees—at least the concept portion of the process. That’s how the Butterfinger I ordered was invented: Someone asked for a combination of two new flavors and liked it so much the shop whipped up more and passed samples out to other diners who all agreed it tasted like the candy bar. To achieve that nutty-cocoa blend, Portland Burger starts with a base of vanilla Darigold ice cream, plops in a gob of extra-crunchy Monarch Peanut Butter and some Grandmother’s Chocolate Chip Cookies, then mixes the contents by hand for 20 seconds before finishing the shake in a machine. A mountain peak of Reddi-wip is topped with chocolate and caramel syrups, peanuts, and cookie crumbles. Clearly, milkshake making has been taken to a new artistic level at Portland Burger, and you can see—and taste—more of these masterpieces once the brand launches Portland Shakes as an internal pop-up and, eventually, its own brick-and-mortar. AP.

Portland Burger Portland Burger. Photo by Andi Prewitt.

Rally Pizza

8070 E Mill Plain Blvd., Vancouver, Wash., 360-524-9000, 3-8 pm Monday-Thursday, noon-8 pm Friday-Sunday.

Strip mall fare is often mediocre and served by corporate chains, but every once in a while, you’ll find a foodie gem nestled in these typically utilitarian plazas. Rally Pizza is one such rare example. The bright, Italian-inspired cafe has some of Southwest Washington’s best Neapolitan-style pies, hand-stretched pasta and frozen custard. Rally also boasts a special made-to-order menu of hand-spun custard shakes that are worth the wait. With five different boozy options to choose from ($11), it’s hard to decide between classic cocktail-inspired offerings, like the blackberry bramble, and pastry-driven flavors, such as a smoked marshmallow s’mores. Each is spiked with whatever gin, vodka, bourbon or rum best fits the theme. I settled on the piña colada, which arrived spilling over the rim of the glass onto a saucer. The use of fresh-squeezed, sweet-tart pineapple juice instead of premade syrup makes all the difference. The custard floats across the tongue as smoothly as a whipped cloud of meringue, while flavors of the tropics, from coconut cream to molasses rum, slowly dissolve like a sunset. EJG.

Rally Pizza Rally Pizza. Photo courtesy of Rally Pizza. (sue obryann} )

Rockabilly Cafe

8537 N Lombard St., 503-384-2076, 8 am-8 pm Wednesday-Thursday and Sunday. 8 am-9 pm Friday-Saturday.

When Rockabilly Cafe opened last February, it was perfectly timed to meet a series of pandemic demands, including cravings for comfort foods and a desire to return to seemingly simpler eras. The St. Johns restaurant serves heaping portions of greasy spoon fare—though organic and locally sourced—in a dining room decorated with authentic showpieces from the mid-20th century, like a working Wurlitizer jukebox and the front end of a 1955 Chevy pickup. About a month after opening, Rockabilly added alcohol-soaked shakes ($12) to its menu, as if it knew we’d need another painkiller as the year wore on. Right now, you should be drinking the White Ukrainian, and not just because it’s trendy to protest the Russian invasion by boycotting the country’s exports along with its name (Rockabilly owner David Liberman is also half-Ukrainian). The shake’s soothing rum-and-coffee flavor is like slipping into that first light sweater of the season as we transition into fall. It’s also blended and served in style: A genuine Multimixer, the device introduced to McDonald’s by its eventual CEO, Ray Kroc, is on display behind the counter, and the final product comes with a jaunty, red- and white-striped, extra-wide straw. Although renamed and frozen, we’re certain the Dude would still abide. AP.

Rockabilly Cafe Rockabilly Cafe. Photo by Andi Prewitt.

Stack 571 Burger & Whiskey Bar

670 Waterfront Way, Vancouver, Wash., 360-450-0774, 11:30 am-10 pm Monday-Thursday, 11:30 am-11 pm Friday, 11 am-11 pm Saturday, 11 am-10 pm Sunday.

On any given weekend, Stack 571 Burger & Whiskey Bar is crowded with 40-something parents dressed up for a night out away from the kids. Most are taking in views of the new Vancouver Waterfront esplanade while sipping wine or filling out their whiskey passports while having dinner. If you find yourself among them, order dessert from the “Shakes With a Shot” menu—a lineup of over-the-top Willy Wonka-style milkshakes ($11.95). I tried four of them, and the Lucky Charms S’Mores flavor is the standout of the bunch. Stack’s soft serve is the perfect contrast to bittersweet chocolate malt balls studded throughout the drink, and the graham cracker topping’s crunch keeps you coming back for more honey-tinged bites. But it’s the star-, heart- and horseshoe-shaped cereal that is the real pot of gold at the end of this delicious rainbow: The marshmallows soften up just enough in the creamy mixture without becoming soggy. EJG.

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