Frappe Sheet

Frappe

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Here’s where to get the shakes this summer.

Elsewhere in the country, ordering a thick, frosty beverage made from blended ice cream and milk is a fairly straightforward proposition: you ask for a milkshake. But in Maine (and pockets of the rest of New England), what you’re craving is historically known as a frappe (rhymes with “sap,” from the French frapper, “to beat”). Ordering a “milkshake” might get you milk and syrup beaten vigorously — still yummy, but a letdown if you were expecting ice cream. What’s tricky is that the distinction is applied inconsistently across the state and, furthermore, that some shops instead distinguish a shake from a frappe by using soft serve for the former and hard for the latter.

Which is to say, Mainers have a long history of making milkshakes complicated. Below, a few of our favorite (slightly complicated) spins on a classic summer treat.


The Original Duckfat Milkshake

Duckfat, 43 Middle St., Portland. 207-774-8080.

We’re not the first to heap praise on Duckfat’s velvety flagship shake, made with ice cream from Westbrook’s Smiling Hill Farm, Tahitian vanilla beans, and crème anglaise. This knockout, custard-like concoction, served in an old-school stainless-steel mixing cup, is worth waiting in the inevitable line for. Other flavors at the busy East End sandwich shop are equally rich and subtle — next up, try the sea-salted caramel.

Chocolate “Thick Western” Frappe

Fat Boy Drive-In, 111 Bath Rd., Brunswick. 207-729-9431.

“Western,” in this context, means extra-thick, so the name’s redundant, but there ain’t no milkshake like a drive-in milkshake, and this paper-cup beauty is luscious, fudgy, and a real workout to pull through a straw. The 62-year-old Fat Boy uses ice milk, which has less butterfat, instead of blending milk and ice cream — surprising, given the name of the joint, but you’ll still feel fat after putting away 20 ounces.

Grandpa’s Coffee

BRGR Bar, 11 Brown St., Portland. 207-835-0786.

New to Portland, this mini-chain got its start in New Hampshire, but the smooth-as-silk Grandpa’s Coffee shake is all Maine, thanks to a generous splash of Allen’s Coffee Brandy. Bartenders combine the sweet java liqueur — Maine’s bestselling spirit, virtually unheard of anyplace else — with vanilla ice cream and spiced rum (Portland was once a rum-running capital). Not that you’ll taste the booze — this one goes down dangerously easy.

Boston Shake

Sawyer’s Dairy Bar, 34 Main St., Newport. 207-368-5434.

Reportedly hard to find in actual Beantown, the Boston Shake is a rare beast, spotted sporadically across New England at your more venerable mom-and-pop dairy bars. Simple concept: a milkshake with a petite hot-fudge sundae plopped on top. You’ll need both spoon and straw, and the sundae melting into the shake allows for some adventuresome flavor combinations.

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Awful Awful Malted Vanilla

Houlton Farms Dairy Bar, 131 Military St., Houlton. 207-532-2628.
98 Bennett Dr., Caribou. 207-498-8911.
792 Main St., Presque Isle. 207-764-6200.

Malt comes from barley, and barley comes from Aroostook County, where it’s a common rotational crop with potatoes — so if it’s a malted you seek, it seems appropriate to get one way up north. This 80-year-old family dairy uses milk and cream from Aroostook cows and offers a consistency so far beyond thick, it’s designated “awful awful.” Add malted milk powder to vanilla for a classic regional flavor that’s yeasty-sweet and addictive.


Brian Kevin

Brian Kevin is Down East's managing editor.