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?With 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?The 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.As 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’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.
Grubbing on-the-go: 8.00/10
Price: $3.39 (half price after 8pm)
Overall GrubGrade: 9.00/10
More Info: sonicdrivein.com
(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.