Whether it’s a chocolate-infused cocktail or a spirits-laced cream-filled concoction, make sure your final course is strong and spirited.

THIS HOLIDAY SEASON, it’s time to embrace the spiked milkshake. But where to start? Begin where most good things do; according to Ty Fulcher, co-owner at Union Bar & Soda Fountain in Fort Collins, it all starts with the ice cream.

“We found that the type of ice cream is super important,” he says. “We have done a lot of experimenting recently, even playing around with non-dairy. Just like with any type of cooking, starting with quality ingredients helps with the overall quality of the dish.”

Boozy desserts are part of the shtick at Union, which opened its doors in Old Town in early 2018. The concept for the restaurant was inspired by the classic soda fountain, but it’s not a literal interpretation. Union doesn’t feel like the soda fountain of yore. It’s modern and chic, yet there is a family friendly vibe that feels both welcoming and fun. Looking across the sunny dining area, you can see couples drinking beer at the bar, kids inhaling ice cream sundaes and adults eating fried chicken and gleefully spooning whipped cream, ice cream and bright colored liquids into their mouths.

At Union, the spirited shakes and fortified floats all take their cues from classic dessert flavor profiles. The Rickety Cricket Shake is inspired by

grasshopper pie, using creme de menthe and creme de cacao. The Peaches & Regalia float has honey vodka, peach and vanilla syrup, giving the classic peaches and cream a boozy bite.

Fulcher’s favorite is the White Lightning, a creamy, velvety shake that gets its punch from bourbon and its sweetness from caramel. A hint of sea salt makes the whole thing sing.

Fulcher won’t divulge Union’s recipes (yes, we asked), and he says there is no standardized booze-to-ice cream ratio. Instead, he suggests starting with an ounce or an ounce-and-a-half pour of your favorite spirits. From there, play around. It is, after all, just dessert.

“Just tweak it to your own personal tastes,” Fulcher says.

Stick with flavor combinations that you like. Try different ratios. If all else fails, pour your favorite liqueur over your favorite ice cream, and enjoy every moment of it.

Sophisticated Shakes

Union isn’t the only boozy shake shop in town. Feisty Spirits serves up decadent milkshakes mixed with their own spirits. Owner Jamie Fulcher shares his faves for you to try at home.

Feisty Chocolate & Peanut Butter Milkshake

1 ½ to 2 oz. natural peanut butter
1 oz. chocolate sauce
½ to 1 Tbsp cocoa powder (optional)
6 oz. vanilla ice cream
1 ½ oz. Feisty Spirits Better Days Bourbon
Real whipped cream

Directions: Add ingredients in order listed above except for whipped cream. Blend to desired consistency. Top with whipped cream and drizzle more chocolate sauce on top. If you want to simplify, use chocolate ice cream and skip the chocolate sauce. Fulcher likes dark chocolate, so he uses cocoa powder to intensify the chocolate character.

Banana and Salted Caramel

1 ripe banana
1 ½ oz. salted caramel sauce
6 oz. of vanilla ice cream
1 ½ oz. Feisty Spirits Wild Thing Colorado Whiskey
Real whipped cream

Directions: Add ingredients except whipped cream to blender in listed order and blend to desired consistency. Top with whipped cream and drizzle with salted caramel sauce. If you use a big banana, you can get away with reducing the amount of ice cream.

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