Welcome to "Schaefer," in which Eric Schaefer -- a local guy with a big (but discerning) appetite and a sense of humor to match -- takes on the Phoenix food scene.
There are a lot of terms tossed around in the world of food that are overused and meaningless. Some are just cliché, others are inaccurate, and most are just plain annoying. Farm-to-table. Toothsome. Tasty. Mouthwatering. Mouth feel. Bacon this, pork belly that, and sous-vide everything else. Not to mention just about everything involving kale. But no single expression in the world of food is as moronic as "adult milkshake." Sorry to be such a hater, but it's the epitome of lame.
Let's be clear on something: There is absolutely nothing wrong with a milkshake, per se, although I'm partial to its cousin, the malt. Milkshakes are delicious, a great way to eat your ice cream with an extra punch of lactose to really fuck with your gut. Even for the lactose intolerant like me, a milkshake is sometimes worth the subsequent pain and room-clearing distress. But "adult milkshake?" No. Never.
Allegedly, a milkshake is adult-ified with the addition of alcohol. Often it's bourbon or Guinness or Baileys or whatever else you have at hand. From the way menus read, the addition of alcohol to a milkshake is somehow supposed to make it more "fun." In my world, one drinks alcohol in large part for the resulting buzz, whether subtle or overt. Yes, there are many forms of alcohol I enjoy. Maybe it takes the edge off a hard day or relaxes you a bit or it's refreshing.
Be honest: How many people are going to drink tequila if it didn't knock them on their ass? It's hard for me to imagine that a milkshake is somehow made better with alcohol. Chances are that your stomach would explode before you could drink enough "adult milkshakes" to actually get drunk.
But more annoying than the mere concept of an adult milkshake are the people who drink them. I live and work in Scottsdale; I was basically raised here. In spite of all its flaws, I love Scottsdale. But the people who get off on adult milkshakes almost always live in Scottsdale. And, let's face it, it's usually women -- the same ones who wear Uggs with their yoga pants when the temperature drops below 90. Adult milkshakes are a drink for people who really aren't that much fun but who think they're being fun -- and a little bit rebellious -- by adding a negligible amount of alcohol to their dessert. Adult milkshakes are the vice of choice for sheltered and nervous sorority girls who think they're being naughty when Mom and Dad aren't there to watch them, but they really aren't being naughty at all.
You don't want to hang out with the adult milkshake aficionado. She's a bore. And, besides, didn't her chocolate martini fill her up?
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It's not so much the actual adult milkshake, it's the idea that somehow it's really . . . adult. Sure, you have to be 21 to order one, but is this really a concoction for grownups? Or is it just some marketing ploy to make grownups think they're a lot more fun than they really are? Why can't it just be called a Bourbon Milkshake? As if we're really getting wild tonight by tossing a shot of bourbon into our ice cream. I'd rather just have the bourbon. As a good friend of mine astutely noted, "Following the adult milkshake logic, are adult diapers soaked in booze? If so, I've foolishly misunderstood those commercials for years." Soon, you'll be able to get wasted while discreetly hiding your incontinence.
For whatever reason, "adult" is synonymous with sex. The Castle Boutique is an "adult bookstore." (Although I suspect they sell a lot more of The Rabbit than War and Peace.) So, are we supposed to blush and giggle at the notion of an adult milkshake in the same way that we do with The Castle's lascivious offerings? Call it what it is. We don't call salad dressed with champagne vinaigrette an "Adult Salad" and Steak Diane isn't "Steak with Adult Sauce." It's ironic that in the age of overly detailed menu descriptions in which a piece of pig is listed as "Heritage Berkshire Pork, shallots, Cabernet reduction, potatoes from Jim Bob's farm, farm egg from a hen named Betty" we must somehow employ marketing bullshit to sell something as simple as ice cream and milk.
If we happen to have plans in the near future, just let me know if you're an adult milkshake drinker. Because you're really not as fun as you think you are and I might just be sick that day.