How to make the best thing in the world: An avocado milkshake

avocado milkshake

This is my favorite thing ever, and I will show you how to make one.

I discovered avocado milkshakes back when I was living and working in Boston, when I first began to come up with the idea for Beware the Hawk. As you might guess from the book, I spent a lot of time in Boston’s Chinatown; I walked through it every day to get to work and to get home, it was right near the bus station, so whenever I went out of town, I came through Chinatown, and then there was my lunch half-hour, and where better to spend it than in the warren of restaurants up the street.

My favorite restaurant wasn’t actually a restaurant at all. It was a food court. I don’t mean a food court like you get in a mall. Rather it was this hot, greasy, second-story room with a lot of vendors and a couple of cafeteria tables crammed into it; I’d have never even known it was there if a friend hadn’t taken it upon himself to bring me up there. It wasn’t a good idea to look too closely at the floors or the tables, but the food was incredible. And even better was a tiny juice bar wedged into a corner of the room. They sold bubble tea, of course, but they also had this watermelon juice that tasted, as my friend put it, “like summer in a glass.” But then there was this other concoction; the avocado milkshake.

I made a face the first time I saw the light green drink.

“Just try it,” said the friend I was with, another recent Chinatown food court convert. I did, and then I abandoned the Watermelon juice for good. The delicate, creamy flavor was unlike anything I’d ever tried. It was the perfect, subtle mix of sweet and savory. For the year I worked in Boston, I ordered an avocado milkshake on every single hot day. But then I got a job in another state and never found an avocado milkshake again. And then the Chinatown food court closed and I despaired. I had my last avocado milkshake in 2001. Until last week, when the weather heated up and I discovered that we had half an avocado in the fridge.

Now it wasn’t that I didn’t try to make these shakes until now. Before I left Boston, I watched the juice man make my drink carefully. I tried to see what he was putting in the blender. I asked him but either he did not speak enough English to tell me, or he wasn’t interested in sharing. And then, when I was living in a city with no avocado milkshakes and a hot day rolled around, I tried to make one. I kept trying, sporadically, for 12 years. I ruined countless avocados and at least one blender.

But now? This is my summer drink. This is what I will make when I take a break from writing during the hot months. It’s back in my life, and I’m not letting it go.

So how do you make an avocado milkshake?

My avocado milkshake uses almond milk rather than cow’s milk. This is partially because I happened to have it, and partially because the calories in an avocado are high enough that I like to offset them with a relatively low-fat alternative to dairy. But even better, the nutty flavor of the almond milk goes very well with the creaminess of the avocado. You’ll see. Also, it’s vegan. (I’m not a vegan, but eating vegan things makes me feel like I’m high-fiving the planet. It’s the CT yuppie in me. I can’t help it.)

It turns out the secret ingredient is patience, which is always in short supply in my kitchen. It’s worth mentioning that I really had no knowledge of avocados at the beginning of this quest. My introduction to avocado milkshakes was also my introduction to avocados, so it was through this attempt to make a milkshake that I became acquainted with the maddening process of choosing a ripe avocado, or ripening an unripe avocado, and understanding the various ways in which they can go bad. So many of my attempts were ruined by unripe avocados and a desire for a milkshake right now.

That, my friends, can only end in tears.

So here’s the first step. Go to the store. Get these ingredients:

avocado milkshake, agave

Don’t make my mistake and get the agave. Apparently it’s terrible for you, goddammit.

Avocados, which are usually on sale this time of year. Get the softest ones you can.
Almond milk.
Some sort of sweetener. (I’m using agave nectar, but only because I didn’t read all the blog posts about how agave nectar is going to grab me by the liver and throttle me before I bought the bottle. You can use honey, maple syrup, Stevia, or good old-fashioned sugar.)

You will also need:
cold water
a blender

Step 2: Forget all about your avocado milkshake until tomorrow. This step is the one that defeated me for a decade. I know this is hard, but you must forget. That avocado needs to be really, really ripe.

Step 3: Is it tomorrow? Is the avocado ripe? Cut it in half. You will only need half an avocado per shake.

The pit will magically keep that other half from spoiling.

The pit will magically keep that other half from spoiling.

Step 4: Put a handful of ice cubes in the blender and crush them.

Step 5: Take the half without the pit, scoop out the tender, soft green stuff in the middle of the avocado and add it to the blender. Put the other half-avocado in a container and put it in the fridge. The pit will keep the avocado from turning brown immediately. It will keep for a day or two like that.

avocado milkshake

Step 6: Add a cup of Almond Milk, a cup of cold water and however much sweetener you want and blend. Once the mixture is well blended and the consistency of a milkshake, it’s ready.

avocado milkshake

It should look like what we affectionately call “Frog in a Blender.”

Step 7: Pour into glass and enjoy. Or you can drink it right from the blender. I’m not judging.