That’s Uncle O’Grimacey, and he’s the patron saint of the McDonald’s Shamrock Shake. Every March I become obsessed with the slightly minty green shake that used to be on the menu every year when I was growing up in Maryland. I remember having my very first Shamrock Shake courtesy of Grammy and Grampy Novitsky. I can’t remember anything else about the circumstances of that little outing, but I remember it distinctly. It was a large one. And my sister and parents weren’t there. I swear this happened.
Oh my god, they’re so good. And if one more person tells me that it’s just a vanilla shake with green food coloring, I’m going lose it. They’re the most delicious fast food dessert of all time. And for some fucking reason, the McDonald’s company likes to WITHHOLD them from the majority of the world. There’s a popular site for SS fans to post sightings around the country. Last year I made the mistake of asking a local McDonald’s employee if they were carrying them. Mass confusion ensued. Maybe they’ve never had them in East Tennessee?
But it’s not just East Tennessee, when I lived in NY I couldn’t find them either. Nowhere in Manhattan or Brooklyn at least. I heard a rumor about them being available on Long Island this year, but I won’t count it as fact until I see some documentation. So a few years ago, when I worked at a place in New York that didn’t mind mid-day alcoholism or other time-wasting activities, my co-workers and I set out to recreate the Shamrock Shake on our own. In fact, my blender is probably still in that office from the ordeal. It’s certainly not here.
Through trial and error, I’ve found that the best subtle minty flavor comes from the Torani syrup you find in coffee shops. The Creme de Menthe flavor is the best.
The only place in Knoxville that sells this crap is World Market. So I went there today and despite a selection that included blood orange syrup and sugar-free chocolate chip cookie dough syrup, no creme de menthe to be found.
So I had to go the route of the commoner. The internets are full of fake SS recipes. I found a sickening misunderstanding of one earlier today on a disney website that involved lime sherbet. But the basic consensus is vanilla ice cream, milk, green food dye, and mint extract (eggstrack if you’re Sandra Lee).
And as long as you’re real careful to stay light on the mint extract, it’s pretty darn close. Although it’s been so long since I’ve had a real one, I can’t really even remember. Also, I don’t have a real blender anymore, only an immersion blender, which seemed to work fine. It’s an issue with making milkshakes in any kind of blender that the milk kind of separates from the ice cream globs. But I find that you can get a more consistent texture by giving it a good stir, sticking it in the freezer for about five minutes, then stirring it again.
And while I’m on the topic…in the fall of 2002, when I lived in the College Park, MD area, I found a McDonald’s serving up a Pumpkin Spice shake. And it was amazing. And I’ve never met anyone else who has heard of this. Maybe it was just a lovely daydream?
Knock-Off Homemade Shamrock Shake (makes 1 shake)
- 2 scoops vanilla ice cream
- About 3/4 C. whole milk
- 3 drops green food color
- 1/8 tsp. mint extract
Scoop the ice cream into a blender, or some vessel to stick the immersion blender into. Pour in milk to cover about 3/4 of the way up the ice cream scoops. Add green dye and mint extract. Blend thoroughly.
Pour the mixture into a glass, and stir around a little. Place in freezer for 5 minutes. Stir again and enjoy with a straw and a Thin Mint (since it’s Girl Scout cookie time of year).