U.S. burger chains aim to scoop up patrons with boozy milkshakes

(Reuters) - Gourmet hamburger chains are spiking milkshakes with everything from beer to red wine in a bid to steal customers from "dry" rivals like McDonald's Corp.

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Inc on Tuesday will debut a Samuel Adams Octoberfest milkshake, made with vanilla ice cream, beer and caramel, at its roughly 460 restaurants around the country.

Red Robin is not the first restaurant to add booze to milkshakes, which are a menu staple at most burger joints. But its move comes as bartenders take a bigger role in creating menu items that will set more upscale restaurants apart from fast-food chains that often do not sell alcohol.

"Now our guests don't have to choose between a beer or a shake to go with their burger," Donna Ruch, Red Robin's master mixologist in charge of developing alcoholic and nonalcoholic drink recipes, said of the chain's new beer milkshake.

The number of frozen cocktails on restaurant menus is up 52 percent since 2009, despite the flagging popularity of classics like pina coladas, daiquiris and mudslides, according to Mintel Menu Insights, which tracks trends across all types of restaurants.

"Boozy shakes are kind of a thing right now," Mintel food service analyst Kathy Hayden said.

Celebrity chef Bobby Flay sells bourbon, rum and vodka-spiked milkshakes at his chain, called Bobby's Burger Palace.

But, as the Red Robin example shows, the combinations don't end with hard alcohol - a traditional ingredient in "adult" milkshakes. Read More