Nostalgia is big at Toronto’s dairy bars and restaurants right now. Old-fashioned milkshakes and ice cream floats have been popping up on menus since the weather turned warm, including many innovative flavour combinations and unorthodox ingredients (read: booze). Here, a roundup of innovative shakes and floats from across Toronto.
Ed’s Real Scoop
The east end’s go-to parlour has over 100 flavours in its repertoire, each made on-site with real cream. Visitors can choose any of the 44 daily ice cream selections for a sumptuous, all-natural milkshake or a float made with classic Pop Shoppe elixirs (cream soda, lime rickey, black cherry, cola and root beer). Kids will likely go for sweeter options, but grown-ups tend to favour the Guinness ice cream. Floats $5.25, milkshakes $4.25–$5.50.
920 Queen St. E. (at Logan Ave.), 2224 Queen St. E. (at Beech Ave.).
W Burger Bar
Each of W Burger’s six varieties of shakes comes with whipped cream, a maraschino cherry and three ounces of alcohol. The fruity Master Blaster uses dark rum, coconut rum, pineapple juice and strawberry ice cream, while Chocolate Silk revels in sinful sweetness with chocolate liqueur, Kahlua, cherry brandy, chocolate ice cream and a dusting of chocolate. $9–$10.
10 College St. (at Yonge).
This Yorkville institution puts a sophisticated spin on the classic shake with its savoury cardamom-orange shake. Pastry chef Colen Quinn prepares the concoction with toasted whole cardamom pods, homogenized milk and fresh-squeezed orange juice. Served with a doughnut dessert, the shake’s frothy, light texture makes it ideal for summer. $10.
1221 Bay St. (at Bloor St. W.)
The Big Chill
With such unusual flavours as birthday cake and tiger tail (like the ice cream), the Big Chill delivers the kid-in-a-candy-store feeling with 30 combinations of milkshakes and ice cream floats. Those looking for demure sweetness can go for such fruity wonders as pomegranate and watermelon. The strawberry and 7-Up combination is a big hit among the floats (mint-chocolate and cookies ‘n’ cream shakes are also popular). Whipped cream tops deliver a dash of decadence. $6.
367 Manning Ave. (at College)
Greg’s Ice Cream
This legendary Toronto shop is the place to broaden ice cream horizons. With two to three types of chocolate ice cream available at any time (23 in total), old-school shakers can experiment with more adventurous flavours, like mocha and white chocolate. There’s diverse selection for vanilla fans, too, with such flavours as malted vanilla and vanilla yogurt. Roasted marshmallow, the variety that keeps people lined up out the door, works equally well in milkshakes and waffle cones. Floats $5.25, milkshakes $6.
750 Spadina Ave. (at Bloor St. W.)