A swift scroll through Instagram typically shows four kinds of photos: selfies, babies, sunsets, and food. Every now and then, your eyes widen, your mouth salivates, and your stomach growls. This pic is more than food porn: It’s an architectural wonder in the form of a milkshake.
Living up to the term "eye candy," these rich and creamy milkshakes are whimsically topped with cotton candy, lollipops, doughnuts, brownies, cereal, whipped cream, and other sweets. A deft hand is required to place each ingredient in the right spot, lest risk the creation toppling over. But local eateries such as Bocas House, Sugar Factory, and Vicky’s House have stepped up to the challenge.
They’ve seized the opportunity to take on this exciting time for desserts. Doughnuts, croughnuts, ice-cream sandwiches, and other creative concepts had their time to shine, but thanks to the emergence of over-the-top milkshake combinations, dessert lovers in Miami have another option to get a sugar rush.
Matt Kuscher and his restaurant group Kush Hospitality opened Vicky’s House this past April, and with it came a large scoop of '80s nostalgia and crazy milkshake creations. Indulge in the Breakfast Club ($15), a vanilla shake with a peanut butter rim, Cap’n Crunch cereal, Miami Smokers bacon, a glazed doughnut from the Salty Donut, whipped cream, and a shot of colada; or the Golden Girls ($15), a banana milkshake with cream cheese frosting, Golden Grahams cereal, toffee bits, whipped cream, caramel, a vanilla wafer, a Twinkie, a homemade blondie, and a cherry on top. Vicky’s newest strawberry-infused milkshake, Pretty in Pink ($15), honors everyone’s favorite '80s redhead, Molly Ringwald.
“They don't just taste delicious, but they are a piece of art,” Kuscher says. “So you’re eating art, and what's more fun than that?”
Although Vicky’s House is a newcomer to the crazy-milkshake craze, the ever-expanding gourmet sweets shop Sugar Factory is no stranger to the game. “Candy and sweets are at the core of our brand — it's not just a trend for us,” Sugar Factory founder Charissa Davidovici says. “We love that more and more people are getting in on the fun milkshakes. We've been offering our milkshakes for many years and see the joy it brings customers of all ages.”
Try the bacon cheeseburger milkshake ($18), topped with a mini-cheeseburger, for the perfect combination of sweet and salty; or sample the fan-favorite caramel Sugar Daddy cheesecake ($18), a decadent blend of vanilla ice cream, cheesecake bites, and milk inside a glass sprinkled with Graham cracker crust. It’s topped with a cheesecake slice, a Sugar Daddy candy bar, a large round lollipop, and rainbow sprinkles. Recently, Sugar Factory debuted an insane milkshake collaboration with MdoughW. The limited-edition treat contains MdoughW owner Margo Wolfe's famous Italian rainbow cake "doughie."
"We're constantly pushing the limit on what we can garnish our shakes with,” Davidovici says. “'The bigger the better' [is] our motto with everything else we do at our restaurants.”
At Sugar Factory, the creation process is intricate for its insane milkshakes. The restaurant begins with designing concoctions months in advance, but sometimes overnight inspirations from the team are produced in as little as two weeks. "The time-consuming part of it all is ensuring that the ingredients we decide to feature are made to perfection and available,” Davidovici says. “The process of making these shakes is truly an art form. Each member is always readily available to design each shake order to perfection."
For many, the wow factor of over-the-top milkshake combinations goes beyond an insatiable sweet tooth. It’s also about making a bold statement on social media: Yes, I’ve been there. Here's proof! Milkshake emporiums such as New York City’s Black Tap and London’s Patissez have perfected this concept and garnered Instagram fan bases of more than 283,000 and 50,300 followers, respectively. They’ve lured guests both near and far to try frozen treats that taste as delicious as they look on news feeds. In return, their customers have snapped their own food pics to share with their friends.
Bocas House in Doral gives dessert-loving locals the opportunity to see what the hype is about IRL with its jaw-dropping stunners that come in Nutella, tres leches, and cookies 'n' cream varieties. The Nutella shake, made from scratch with a Nutella brownie, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and a chocolate truffle, is the restaurant’s best-seller.
Cesar Gonzalez, cofounder of Bocas House, had a strong social media presence long before he and Levin de Grazia opened their Doral eatery. Gonzalez’s personal Instagram account (@co_cinero) boasts more than 1.5 million followers, and their business account (@bocas_house) has more than 215,000. Both profiles show off visually attractive treats that were once few and far between in the West Miami-Dade city.
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“We love the idea of creating a trend and bringing it to Miami. When you believe in your unique and different product, people take it as something they should definitely try,” Gonzalez says. “In our case, the success of this trend is propitiated on our social networks. It’s awesome when someone comes to my restaurant and shows me a post of our milkshakes on Instagram. Some people come exclusively for our milkshakes. Some others have even told me that they have traveled from other states just to try them.”
Bocas House. 10200 NW 25th St., Doral; 786-401-7071; bocashouse.com.
Sugar Factory. 1144 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach; 305-604-0323. 647 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach; 305-674-6670; sugarfactory.com.
Vicky's House. 3190 Commodore Plaza, Coconut Grove; 305-442-3377; vickyshouse.com.