Photography by Tracie Davis
When March finally rolls around, there’s one thing on everybody’s minds—the promise of springtime. Along with warmer temps, beginning-to-bloom flowers and daylight savings time, there’s also St. Patrick’s Day, a holiday that falls just days before the spring equinox. What better way to celebrate Irish culture, spring’s arrival and all things green than with a boozy, minty and emerald-hued milkshake? We’re talking, of course, about the Shamrock Shake.
We at Wine Enthusiast are partial to boozy treats, so our spin on the drive-thru classic naturally takes a detour through the bar cart. Vanilla vodka and Irish cream liqueur contribute a vanilla-scented alcoholic base, while green crème de menthe liqueur adds color and that classic minty flavor. Velvety vanilla ice cream brings it all together. It’s a just-right, spring-appropriate drink to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, which is arguably the earliest time of year it’s socially acceptable to go all-in on ice cream.
What Is a Shamrock Shake?
Most notably associated with McDonald’s, the Shamrock Shake is a seasonal milkshake that the fast-food giant releases every year in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. The shake is usually made with vanilla soft-serve ice cream and mint syrup, then topped with whipped cream. It is thick, creamy and neon green.
The drink was first officially introduced in the 1970s as a limited-time offering at McDonald’s locations that opted to include it on their menus. Legend has it that a Connecticut McDonald’s owner, Hal Rosen, first served the shake in 1967 in honor of the holiday. In 2012, the drink became a seasonal offering on menus nationwide.
Over the years, McDonald’s has released multiple variations of the drink, including a Chocolate Shamrock Shake, Shamrock Hot Chocolate and Oreo Shamrock McFlurry, but none have received quite the cult following of the original.
At McDonald’s, the classic Shamrock Shake typically pops up in late February. There is no set time as to when the drink leaves menus for the year, but participating stores will offer it “for a limited time, while supplies last.”
What Flavor Is the Shamrock Shake?
Because a Shamrock Shake is made with vanilla ice cream and mint syrup, the drink has a distinctive cool, minty flavor. It’s sweet, extremely creamy and has strong notes of vanilla.
How to Make a Shamrock Shake
A classic Shamrock Shake is simply vanilla ice cream blended with mint syrup and topped with whipped cream, but our version has a fun, boozy twist. We blend together vanilla ice cream and whole milk for a creamy, dreamy consistency. Then we add vanilla vodka and Irish cream liqueur for an alcoholic kick, plus green crème de menthe liqueur for the drink’s signature color. A few extra ingredients—including green food coloring, whipped cream and a cherry on top—make this treat a visual stunner.
Shamrock Shake-Inspired Cocktail Recipe
Recipe by Jacy Topps
4 cups vanilla ice cream
½ cup whole milk, plus more as needed
1 ounce vanilla vodka
1 ½ ounces Irish cream liqueur (Baileys preferred)
2 ounces green crème de menthe liqueur
6 drops green food coloring*
Whipped cream for garnish
Cherries, for garnish
Combine all ingredients, except whipped cream and cherries, in a blender and blend until combined and creamy.
Slowly add more milk until you have reached the consistency you like. Then, pour the shake into a tall glass.
Finally, garnish with whipped cream and a cherry, if desired.
*Food coloring can be omitted if desired, but shake will be very light green.