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Chocolate Mint Milkshake Showdown 2017

Let me begin this post with a bit of information on one of my most memorable childhood memories: Getting Shamrock Shakes from McDonald’s with my mom. We didn’t go out to to McDonald’s too often, but in late-February/early-March… It was time for a green mint milkshake with whipped cream and a cherry.

Even after I moved out of the house, I continued going to McDonald’s every year to get a taste of the green nectar of springtime. (Side note: I never really should be drinking these due to a lactose sensitivity, but I take my chances when it comes to Shamrock Shakes…)

“The Classic Shamrock Shake”

So, I was all excited for shamrock shakes in early February, when I was affronted by two newsworthy stories:

The New Flame. My local Arby’s had a sign in the window for a Mint Chocolate Swirl Shake topped with crushed Andes mints. Usually, I wouldn’t been swooned by a sign (this is a complete lie, I am consistently swooned by signs), but these shakes were only $1 during Arby’s Happy Hour (Everyday from 2-5pm). I had to give it a shot.

Sharp Twist On The Classic. McDonald’s released FOUR new Shamrock Shake variations this year, lumping them all under their McCafe coffeehouse style brand: Chocolate Shamrock Shake, Shamrock Chocolate-Chip Frappe, Shamrock Hot Chocolate and Shamrock Mocha. I have no interest in frappes, hot chocolates, or mochas when it comes to Shamrock. But, I would give this Chocolate Shamrock Shake a try.

Stakes (or should I say “shakes”) are high. I recognize the the classic shamrock shake will always reign supreme, as it is a CLASSIC. But, I was interested in digging deeper when it comes to these mint chocolate shakes.

I tried the Arby’s Mint Chocolate Swirl Shake first. To be frank, I was blown away. This shake was thick. It had an impressive density comparable to a Wendy’s Frosty. I was not expecting to be hit with a that kind of texture and mouthfeel from a milkshake from Arby’s (a company that had an entire ad campaign about how they loved meat so much nothing else matters).

The cup was rimmed with a drizzle of chocolate sauce, topped with a heaping helping of whipped cream (which may have been mint flavored), and sprinkled with delicious Andes mints. I was very pleased.

“Arby’s Mint Chocolate Swirl MilkShake” (Photo by Jack Fitzpatrick)

Later in the week, I was taking a walk past my local McDonald’s and took it as an opportunity to traverse into new territory and try a Chocolate Shamrock Shake. From a quick glance, it had all of the characteristics of a classic Shamrock Shake.

Once I was handed the beverage, I knew something was wrong. And to be honest, I have never been more disappointed in a seasonal  fast food item in my entire life. This shake was not even a shake after all. It was a parfait. It was a layer of chocolate shake, followed by a thin layer of vanilla shake, topped with a layer of shamrock shake. It was not shaken or blended together, it was just layers. I’ve put together a little infographic which lays out my discontent:

“Layers of Discontent” (Photo by Jack Fitzpatrick)

Taking my first sip, I was still optimistic that all of the layers would meld in flavor… They did not. It was a disjointed, uncomfortable dessert beverage experience. I would not recommend to a friend at all. If I were recommending it to anyone, I’d be recommending it to an enemy. But, I did drink the whole thing, so it 100% was not poison.

Conclusions. You know what they say: “Keep it simply, stupid.” The Shamrock Shake is still arguably the greatest seasonal menu item of all time. Much against my predictions, hopes, and dreams, the chocolate Shamrock shake was an utter disappointment. On the other side of the coin, I learned that Arby’s can make a dense flavorful shake that can stand its own in a completely biased taste test. It was enjoyable and quite visually appealing.

In the comments: Thoughts, questions, concerns? Have you tried any of the mentioned shakes?


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