Black Tap and the Craziest Milkshakes in New York City

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Black Tap Milkshakes Kate

 
A few months ago, a new breed of milkshakes exploded across the internet. Monsters covered in piles of candy. Layers of candy and frosting upon whipped cream and chocolate, eagerly waiting to be slurped through a straw.

They were crazy, they were impractical, and they seemed largely designed for Instagram. Surely no normal person could eat one of those in a sitting, right? Well, that didn’t stop people from waiting for hours just to get a taste.

I had to try them.

So when my bud Cailin came to visit New York for a few days, this was our first order of business: try those epic milkshakes for ourselves!

Kate and Cailin Waiting in Line

Waiting in Line to Get In

Black Tap used to be a simple burger, beer, and milkshake bar in SoHo. Then they started doing these crazy milkshakes and their popularity exploded — profiles abounded on sites like Eater and Maxim, and Black Tap’s Instagram skyrocketed in followers.

As a result, there’s an intense line every day, usually snaking around the block.

There are two Black Tap locations in Manhattan: the original in SoHo and one in the Meatpacking District. We originally planned to go to the larger Meatpacking District location, then realized they opened 30 minutes later than SoHo, then decided to chance it and walk down to SoHo, a mile and a half away.

We arrived at the SoHo location five minutes before opening and were ferried to the back of the line. It looked like we would make the second seating.

As Cailin and I waited, we heard the hostess taking calls: “Sir, I can’t tell you how long the wait will be. Sir, the wait could be as long as six hours.”

SIX HOURS! I think we blanched when we heard that. At least we had been told it would be about an hour.

Black Tap Milkshakes Kate and Cailin

After reading amusing graffiti on the wall (“WAITING THREE HOURS” “WAITING FOUR HOURS” “WAITING ONE YEAR!!!”), we made it inside. The wait had taken 90 minutes after showing up at 11:25 AM.

I was shocked at how small a place Black Tap is — it seats around 14 people, with room for a few to stand.

But what shocked me further was how slow and terrible the service was. Honestly, we were sitting for 15 minutes before our bartender even acknowledged us. And he had been standing right in front of us and didn’t appear too busy. I felt like I was intruding when I finally asked for a glass of water.

As a former server, I always give restaurant employees the benefit of the doubt (you never know what’s going on behind the scenes) — so if I say the service is bad, it’s bad. Maybe someone called out and the restaurant was having a rough day, but if this is how their service usually is, they are squandering an unbelievable amount of potential revenue.

The burgers, however, were great.

Black Tap Milkshakes

Black Tap Milkshakes

There are currently four milkshakes from which to choose and they each cost $15.

Black Tap Milkshakes

Sweet N’ Salty: Peanut butter shake with a chocolate frosted rim with chocolate gems (a.k.a. M&Ms) and peanut butter cups, topped with a Sugar Daddy, pretzel rods, chocolate-covered pretzel, whipped cream, and chocolate drizzle.

I chose this one.

Black Tap Milkshakes

The Cookie Shake: Vanilla cookie shake with a vanilla frosted rim with cookie crumbles, topped with a “cookiewich,” crumbled cookies, chocolate chips, whipped cream, and chocolate drizzle.

Cailin chose this one.

Black Tap Milkshakes

Sour Power: Black cherry shake with a vanilla frosted rim with sour gummy poppers (a.k.a. gumdrops), topped with a giant Pixy Stix, rainbow pop, sour skewer, whipped cream, and Nerds.

I have no idea how anyone could drink that, but the older ladies sitting next to us seemed very excited.

Black Tap Milkshakes

Cotton Candy: Strawberry shake with a vanilla-frosted rim with blue, pink, and pearl chocolates, topped with a pink lollipop, rock candy, whipped cream, and cotton candy.

A little girl next to us was very excited when this was delivered to her.

So How Were the Milkshakes?

Oh my God. They were delicious.

I think peanut butter and chocolate is one of the most sacred flavor combinations of the world, and this shake was a beautiful melding of sweet and savory. If only there were more peanut butter cups! Could you imagine a rim of peanut butter cups instead of M&Ms?

I consumed as much of it as I could, reveling in its sweetness. And it was fine, at first…but as we left the bar, I was hit with the ugly aftermath.

Do you remember that episode of Dinosaurs when the baby goes crazy on sugar?

That was basically me. As soon as we left, I was hopped up, vibrating, and couldn’t focus on anything as my stomach churned! And then it ran its course and I just felt sick to my stomach.

I don’t consume much refined sugar to begin with (I literally haven’t touched my sugar bowl once since I moved here three months ago) so it was a big shock to the system!

The Verdict

I’m glad I went — but I don’t think I’ll be returning. For me this falls under the category of “one and done.” Still, I’m very happy to have had the experience.

Cailin: “If the lines went away and they suddenly became cheaper, hell yeah I’d have them again! But we all know that won’t be happening anytime soon.”

Were they good?

Yes, they were delicious, though it was definitely too much sugar and I felt ill afterwards.

Cailin: “They could have been a tad less messy. I don’t like being sticky. These made me sticky. I tried Kate’s and hers was peanut butter and sweetness overload, no wonder she felt ill. The vanilla chocolate chip was way less intense, but still tasty.”

Were they worth the wait?

Well, that’s highly subjective. For us, two travelers who are used to having our patience tested in various developing countries, waiting 90 minutes wasn’t that bad. We had our phones and were able to amuse ourselves, even calling our friend Steph while waiting. Your mileage may vary depending on your patience level.

But if the wait were three, four, six hours? No way. I wouldn’t wait that long.

Cailin: “Definitely. It was a fun experience, we got to catch up with each other, we of course had our phones to distract us and the time flew by. It also helped knowing about how long we would have to wait as the girl managing the line was quite good at her job and kept us updated. However my feet were killing me from standing on the sidewalk that long. If the wait would have been more than two hours I’d pass.”

See Essential Info below for tips on getting a shorter wait.

Were they worth the price?

$15 for crazy novelty shakes and $15 for burgers are fairly standard prices for Manhattan, so I thought it was reasonable.

Cailin: “I’m from Canada so no. There wasn’t even any gold leaf on them! I think $8 max would have been more reasonable. The burger price was standard.”

Were they worth the Instagram shots?

Hell yes! (Though I have yet to post any milkshake shots on Instagram. Soon.) This is where I thought the value was the highest. Cailin and I both love taking photos, goofing off on Snapchat, and making our friends and followers laugh so for us, it was a ton of fun.

If you’re a couple — and Cailin and I are not, though we’re often mistaken for one — this is a great place for couples in NYC. The photos you’ll get are a great mix of retro yet modern! 

Cailin: “Mine was melting so quickly and it’s a tight place and it was busy. I got some great snaps for my Snapchat. Some good video. However Instagram-worthy pics for me? Debatable. There was too much excitement for me to be crafty! It was definitely worth it for the Snapchat and amusing pictures of the two of us with them.”

Kate and Cailin Black Tap Milkshakes

Looking for More Foodie Fun?

If these milkshakes aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other wacky, colorful foodie adventures to go on in New York City. Here are three places I like:

T2 SoHo

Whimsical teaware at T2 in SoHo. T2 is a short walk from Black Tap’s SoHo location and I recommend dropping in if you’re in the neighborhood. Like Black Tap, I think this place was designed for Instagram.

They’ve got lots of tea to try and the teapots are SO beautiful. There’s one with red poppies on it that I would love to have if only I had room for it in my apartment…

Rainbow Bagels

Rainbow bagels at The Bagel Store in Williamsburg. This was the top thing Cailin’s list for her time in New York!

When we got there, they were sadly out of rainbow bagels, but Cailin chose a purple-orange-white swirly bagel and I chose a pink and purple bagel.

We toasted them at my place the next morning. They were both on the small side and tasted vaguely fruity — Cailin’s had a coconut taste and mine almost had a berry-like essence.

If you’re looking for an authentic New York bagel, this is NOT the place (you’d be better off at H&H, Ess-a-Bagel, Russ & Daughters, Absolute Bagels, oh god New Yorkers please don’t kill me, I’m just rattling off the popular names). But in terms of the fun factor, they’re awesome!

Big Gay Ice Cream

Big Gay Ice Cream in Greenwich Village. This place is awesome. Fun and unpretentious ice cream concoctions, most of them with soft serve, with names like the Bea Arthur and the Mermaid. If I’m in the Village and craving something sweet, this is where I come. And my sister has been known to go more than once in a single day…

My favorite: the Salty Pimp. Vanilla soft serve dipped in chocolate shell, topped with dulce de leche and sea salt. (And while the line can stretch around the block on hot summer days, Big Gay is a million times more efficient than Black Tap and the line moves quickly.)


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Essential Info: Black Tap has two locations: the original in SoHo and a second in the Meatpacking District. See their website for opening hours and information.

There are always lines at Black Tap. If you want to minimize your wait, I recommend going on a weekday if you can, on a rainy or cold day if possible, and getting in line an hour before opening. I’d recommend the Meatpacking location because it’s larger and doesn’t have the fame of the original.

Remember — you don’t have to finish the whole thing!

NYC's Craziest Milkshakes -- Adventurous Kate

What do you think? Would you wait in line for these milkshakes?

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45 thoughts on “Black Tap and the Craziest Milkshakes in New York City”

  1. The milkshakes look impressive, but I think they may look better on instagram than in real life. They look hella sugary, very messy, and I hate waiting for food!

    1. This sums up my views 100%. If the person I was with wanted to go, though, I would happily wait in line and order one–though I doubt I’d finish the whole thing.

      How did those cookies not fall down the side as it melted?! They seem to temporarily defy gravity.

  2. Ah, that’s one of those love-hate things about NYC. So many cool things, yet having to suffer hours-long lines or months-long waiting lists to try them! (I once made a reservation at Per Se at 8 am for two months in advance – my bf and I were both dialing in to get a table for our anniversary just to increase our chances – after 20 min of busy line I actually got through!) Now in Moscow we dont have NEARLY the exciting cuisine and selection of NYC, but last fall I went to White Rabbit, which is Russia’s only restaurant on that now-famed ‘top 50 restaurants’ list http://www.theworlds50best.com/list/1-50-winners , on a Saturday night, and I made a reservation that Monday. I dont know ANY Moscovites who would stand in line for 90 min for a milkshake. Those who grew up in the USSR especially – having had to stand in line for 5 hours for toilet paper or sausages. We’ve had our fill.

    1. Wow, I never thought of it from that point of view! I also remember hearing that people lined up when McDonald’s came to Moscow.

      And back when I was a concierge for the AMEX Black Card, Per Se reservations were a big part of what we did. That and the French Laundry.

  3. I have to admit, I would queue for one of those bad ass shakes – I have an incredibly sweet tooth so i’d prob ditch the burger and just go for the sweet stuff.
    There does seem top be an influx of OTT milkshakes on social media doesn’t there? Looks pretty but it’s just making me hungrier and hungrier every time I go on an app.
    Great post and lovely pics
    x tink jayne travel & lifestyle x
    allabouttink.co.uk

  4. I would consider waiting in line for a milkshake like that, as long as I could get one that is gluten-free (I’m a celiac). I’m not sure my toddlers would be able to wait at this time; we could probably all share one and that would help justify the price!

  5. If you’re looking for good bagels go to Brooklyn Bagel and Coffee, which is oddly in Astoria, Queens. The bagels are delicious but they also have some crazy cream cheese flavors (last week’s featured flavor was Samoa cookie) and definitely no hour wait!

  6. Makes me feel ill just looking at them! (Then again, my stomach usually gets upset by ice cream, so that could be why…) Great photos, though!

  7. Haha! I hope that guy didn’t actually have to wait 6 hours, even for awesome milkshakes! I totally understand you on the sugar overload, though.

  8. The bagel store in Brooklyn is actually really good! The problem is now you can go and grab one of their regular bagels bc of the rainbow bagel thing. Their French toast bagel is to die for and they have all types of cream cheese – I had a tomato/avacado/egg/cheese bagel sandwich last time and it was delicious. It’s funny they used to have a ton of the rainbow bagels in the little window and no one ever really ate them – now the regulars can’t get in to get bagels πŸ™

    1. One of the guys suggested we cut up the bagels and cook them like French toast! Cool idea.

      But I’ll always think that the best French toast bagel is from Bagel World in Reading, Mass, my hometown!

  9. “I think peanut butter and chocolate is one of the most sacred flavor combinations of the world”

    You and me both sister. This week I am craving PB like none other. It’s a good thing these shakes are all the way in NYC or I would probably be waiting in line right now.

  10. I’ve worked in restaurants in my younger days and have been working in hospitality now for more than 10 years and my ultimate pet peeve is BAD SERVICE… I don’t mind overpriced restaurants and paying ridiculous prices for novelty milkshakes as long as GREAT service and a MEMORABLE experience are also on the menu. After waiting hours, I wouldn’t want to wait another 15 minutes inside just to be acknowledged by the bartender. What a shame!!! I will dream about the burgers and milkshakes from looking at your pictures!

  11. So you definitely didn’t talk me out of it…. now I just have to find a friend willing to wait in line to try one of these insane milkshakes!

  12. Before I got to the bottom of this I was thinking it sounded exactly like when I waited (THREE. HOURS) for the rainbow bagel. I was also horrified at how bad their service was. You’d think if you have lines snaking around the block every single day, you’d figure out an efficient and effective method to get people in and out. Also the bagel was gross. It tasted like Play Doh. It was almost worth the wait for the funfetti cream cheese though.

  13. I honestly think that if you haven’t had anything for a while (sugar, caffeine, alcohol etc) it is SO MUCH WORSE when you have a lot of it again.

    But if you had to have a milkshake… there’s nothing better than waving past everyone in line at the Shake Shack in Madison Sq Park and slurping it down in front of hungry line-standers.

  14. Crazy milkshakes are all the rage in Australia at the moment. One is even served with a doughnut on top. I can’t bring myself to try any of them, even though they look amazing.

    That’s so cool there’s a T2 in New York! That shop started in Melbourne. Their French Earl Grey is my favourite.

  15. Those milkshakes ARE pretty… but given the wait time and the price and the sugar crash, I think I’d rather make my own with alternatives that don’t have as much refined sugar! (Maybe with high-protein ice cream instead?)

  16. Ahhhh crazy shakes started in Australia over a year ago. In the terrible town of Canberra hahah, it’s really the only reason to look forward to a trip to our capital. Luckily lots of Melbourne places have taken the concept on so you don’t have to go as far as Canberra now. Although at the moment for me, NYC is closer than Melbourne!

    I loved watching this unfold on snapchat, especially the aftermath :-P. Can’t imagine how crappy all that sugar made you feel. But in most situations it’s worth the pain, especially if they were as delicious as you said!

  17. I know I would order a milkshake and then feel guilty for not finishing it.
    They look amazing, but if the service is that bad then I don’t think the sugar rush is worth it.

  18. The milkshakes look tasty! Sadly, milkshakes are too much for my sensitive stomach. Now if they had a non-dairy option I’d be sold on a visit.

  19. I was secretly hoping you’d say they were TERRIBLE! I’m all the way out in San Diego πŸ™ Guess I’ll have to keep lusting from here or better yet, make a trip soon. Thanks for sharing and the honesty!

  20. That’s a crazy expensive milkshake but damn it does look good, I feel like i’m putting on weight just reading about them. These milkshakes are all the rage right now aren’t they, even a cafe in my small hometown are doing them. Yum!

  21. I absolutely would wait for these milkshakes! Getting enjoy the salty and sweet milkshake that you had has been on my bucket list for awhile. Dessert is one of my favorite meals of the day, so because of this, I have been following the blacktap instagram account ever since I heard about these delicious concoctions. Hopefully one day soon I will be able to come to New York and wait in the 6 hr line for a little slice of heaven on earth!

  22. These look fantastic – but I’m not sure if I could manage a whole one. Hoping to visit a place which sells something similar in London in a few weeks – but I think I might have to share!

  23. Thanks so much for the information and tips. I have seen all the photos on Pinterest and Instagram and wanted to try the fun shakes, but waiting in line for hours to pay $15 means it’s probably not going to happen anytime soon. It looks like a fun place to experience once though.

    1. For what it’s worth, the line has died WAY down since this place first opened. I don’t think you’d have much trouble these days, particularly at the Meatpacking District location.

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