Review: Bourbon Brown Sugar Creamery Shake from Sonic

When it comes to milkshakes, there’s Sonic, and then there’s everyone else. Say what you want about the goofy guys in their commercials, the drive-through concept, or the so-so taste of their burgers (the jury is still out, in my opinion), but there’s no denying the chain’s investment in “real” ice cream has paid off. In my experience, Sonic’s shakes are richer, thicker, and more indulgent than the competitors, who also can’t match the 20+ variety of flavors Sonic has offered in the past. After all, how could we forget a Peanut Butter and Bacon shake?Sonic ShakeWith high opinions of Sonic’s shakes to begin with, you might say the announcement of new “Creamery Shakes” had me stumped. Weren’t Sonic’s shakes already good enough to rival a creamery? Promising “unique, indulgent flavors,” the new lineup features combinations like Wildberry and Lavender, Dulce De Leche, and Bourbon Brown Sugar. Sounds good, but are they really more indulgent than Sonic’s regular milkshakes, or is this just a case of the marketing people trotting out some familiar buzzwords?Sonic ShakeThe shake I was most interested in trying was the Bourbon Brown Sugar. You don’t have to be a whisky drinker to appreciate Bourbon’s southern roots and appeal to a craftsmanship ethos; mention bourbon and you’re just as likely to find recipes for bread pudding or barbeque sauce as you are for a whisky sour. Those, and plenty of bourbon ice cream recipes. Here’s what Sonic has to say:

Slow-churned, hand-mixed real ice cream infused with oak-barrel aged bourbon flavor.

My shake cost $3.39 for a small size, or 14 ounces. For those wondering, the new shakes are priced the same as Sonic’s Master Shakes, which typically run about 50 cents over similar sizes of the Classic Shakes. I usually have to ask for a spoon when ordering shakes at Sonic, but this time I was graciously provided one without asking. I needed it. Attempting to drink the shake from a straw is like trying to eat a Porterhouse Steak with chopsticks—it ain’t gonna happen. At least it’s not going to happen for the first few minutes, when the cool, sweet ice cream base is still at its thickest.

Happily exchanging my straw for a spoon, I found the taste to be everything I knew from past Sonic shakes. The ice cream itself is sweet and milky, rich and smooth and every other adjective you could come up with for ice cream. But my first few licks revealed a flavor that didn’t exactly strike me a “oak-aged bourbon.” Rather, it seemed more like a light vanilla and caramel, with maybe hints of a burnt sugar aftertaste. Still good, but more reminiscent of Dulce De Leche or the ubiquitous Salted Caramel. The flavor started to take on more depth as I built some momentum and got deeper into the shake. Once the thick layers had started to melt down a little I really started to pick up a distinct, sophisticated caramel flavor, and was impressed by the depth of vanilla taste. Finally, the aftertaste was just like other bourbon baked goods and sweets I’ve had in the past, and was definitely a flavor worth savoring.Sonic ShakeAs for the topping, I really wasn’t expecting the tiny shortbread pieces, but found them to work. The texture was crunchy but not overpowering, and the flavor was thankfully mild and not cloying. I do wish there were more pieces in the shake, though, and maybe even some pecans.Sonic ShakeSonic’s Bourbon Brown Sugar shake is a great addition to Sonic’s shake lineup. The taste, while reminiscent of familiar flavors like vanilla and caramel, has more depth and a bolder profile than Sonic’s Caramel Shake, and offers a rich creamery experience at only a fraction of the price. That’s the other great thing—the shake, as well as all of Sonic’s shakes—are half-price after 8 pm every night.

Pros: Excellent notes of vanilla, caramel, and brown sugar. Bourbon flavored aftertaste. Super thick. A fraction of the cost of most fast casual shakes.

Cons: A day’s worth of saturated fat. Could have crunchier topping pieces. Slightly too thick to eat with a straw.

Taste: 9.00/10
Value: 9.00/10
Grubbing on-the-go: 8.00/10
Price: $3.39 (half price after 8pm)

Overall GrubGrade: 9.00/10

More Info: sonicdrivein.com
Nutrition Facts:
(Small, 14-ounce size):
580 calories, 32 grams of fat, 22 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams trans fat, 67 grams of carbs, 420 milligrams of sodium, 61 grams of sugar, 0 grams of fiber, 9 grams of protein, 25% calcium.

17 comments on “Review: Bourbon Brown Sugar Creamery Shake from Sonic

  1. Richard says:

    based on the nutritional info I saw off the official website even just the small vanilla milkshake has 20g of saturated fat so complaining about it should be dumped

  2. Ahecht says:

    I’ve gotten into the habit of stealing extra giant straws from my local Boba Tea place and bringing them when I go to Sonic.

  3. Joey says:

    I don’t know how this has gotten a positive review, because the shake I had was the worst shake i’ve ever tasted. The burger that was $.89 that day was the most horrible burger i’ve ever had. I’m not sure if i will try sonic again and waste my money.

  4. Darick says:

    Joey, you sound like a negative Nancy.

  5. Scrape says:

    The food there is pretty crap. You want good burgers and an even better selection of great shakes? Find a Steak n Shake.

    • ahecht says:

      Unfortunately, the nearest Steak n’ Shake is 220 miles (3hr 37m driving time according to Google) further away from me than the nearest Sonic.

      • Dank meme bro says:

        Steak and shake has good shakes sure, but there burgers are the biggest waste of money I’ve ever seen.

        • doctorx0079 says:

          Not true! Try the triple with no cheese, pickles, onions and mustard. They use their own blend of different cuts and you can tell. A thing of beauty. I’m still a little amazed I can get that and fries for $4. Better enjoy it while I can.

  6. flinch says:

    A whiskey sour is made with whiskey, not bourbon. Or “whisky” if you’re talking about Scotch. All have their own names. Also, saying “oak-aged bourbon” is like saying “a brined pickle”. By law, all bourbon is aged in new oak barrels. Don’t annoy bartenders.

    • Bubbsy says:

      The marketing team did not create the verbiage for bartenders, this is an ice cream shake flavor. It is for the benefit of people who never really cared to make mental note of liquor labeling regulations or obscure booze trivia. The flavor description becomes more vivid with the added reference to wood barrel aging, if that annoys some bartender, I think we can collectively assume it’s not a bartender worth talking to anyway.

    • Chuck T says:

      all bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon, google is a great friend

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whiskey_sour

  7. Walter says:

    I’m drinking one right now. Or rather trying to.

    I don’t think that it was mixed right as it’s horribly bitter/sour. I think it might be straight flavor concentrate; hoping that a proper mixing when we get home will render this even remotely drinkable.

  8. Walter says:

    As a follow-up to my last comment; we got home amd I mixed. That was a significant help. Sadly, the whipped cream is now mixed into the milkshake, but at least it’s drinkable now! 😉

  9. S says:

    I thought it was delicious!! I could definitely taste the brown sugar! It was wonderful! At our sonic instead of shortbread pieces we get pie crust crumbles. And they are scrumptious!! I would definitely order this again!!

  10. Bren Bourbon says:

    Thanks for the review. I just tried the Bourbon Sugar Shake (it sounded so good) and it tastes nothing like bourbon. The first impression that came to mind when I tried it was Butter Brickle, and upon further thought, Butterscotch, like one of those hard yellow candies wrapped in cellophane. I was seriously wondering if someone had hit the Butterscotch button instead of Bourbon but from your review, that’s how it tastes and I don’t have to try again to see if I got the wrong thing. I suppose adding actual bourbon to it is one solution.

  11. donovan says:

    I had one about an hour ago, it was great, almost vanilla and light brown sugar, kind of plain. Then i got to the bourbon, and it hit me like a wrecking ball. I got instantly light headed and nearly threw up. I describe the flavour as barbecue sauce with a dash of the fires of hell itself, definitely not what you expect or want in a milkshake, but once again, sonic definitely delivered on their milkshake, for better or worse. How could you do this to me sonic.

  12. L says:

    The Bourbon Brown Sugar shake is super yummy! And Steak and Shake has good burgers but their fries are awful! I’ll take Sonic tater tots any day over those awful fries!

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