milton milkshakes.

I don't have too many fond memories of my time at Liberty University. After a weekend visit (the kind where they break out the good food and overload you with concerts and activities and convince you that it's like that all the time), I signed on to attend the Fall semester after high school graduation. Less than two weeks in, I realized it wouldn't be quite what I expected. Sure, I knew there would be rules, but the entire hall gasped during a meeting one night when our RA's (a.k.a. disinterested grad students looking for free housing) put on a "fashion show" of all the clothes we weren't allowed to wear.

After ditching half my already modest wardrobe (apparently a knee-length skirt with a 2 inch slit in the back is considered incredibly sleazy), I figured that would be the worst of it and I'd find my way eventually. I picked up a part time job scooping ice cream at a restaurant called Sundae Grill and ended up quitting a month later after the owner scolded me for "not smiling enough" and asked me to scrub the cabinets with a toothbrush for five bucks an hour. Smiles cost extra.

After two years of legalistic shenanigans, I snapped. Well, I snapped after some random chick I had never met told me that during church one evening, the guy sitting next to her said he could see my tank-top straps through my shirt and it looked like a bra and he was offended by it. Offended by it. I know, blows my ever-lovin' mind. I love Jesus, okay? Like, heart and soul, through and through. What I don't love is some 18 year old sassafrass telling me what to wear, how to act, and what time to be in bed to make sure I love Jesus the way the school dictates is best. Not happenin'. I'm a free bird.

At any rate, all was not lost! Just a mile away from my dorm (and off campus! the madness!), there was a little hole-in-the-wall coffee shop called The Drowsy Poet. Around campus, everyone simply referred to it as "Drowsy," and it was situated just a few doors down from the dollar-theater, making it a most affordable college date-night. Really, it was the first time I remember drinking coffee to be a big deal, I'd never seen people pack into a place like that before. I haven't thought of it in years but for some reason, three days ago, I remembered the Milton Milkshake. It was their signature drink, and I have no idea who Milton is, but he makes a fine shake. I didn't know what was in it (besides magic) for a long time, and I desperately tried peeking over the counter to watch what the barista was putting into the blender, but my efforts were futile. I couldn't see anything over the bakery case of cappuccino muffins.

When I transferred after my second year, I forgot all about Drowsy and the Milton Milkshake, so no one was more surprised than me when a memory of it popped into my head a few nights ago, just as I was dozing off to sleep. Of course, I immediately became obsessed with recreating it, and milkshake obsession is the worst thing you can do when trying to count your Z's. So I did a little research and found two things, one good and one bad.

The Bad: The Drowsy Poet was purchased by a new owner who added a line-up of Caribbean food to the menu and renamed it Smiley & The Drowsy Poet. That just seems silly.

The Good: Someone equally desperate for a Milton Milkshake outside of Lynchburg, VA tried their hand at guessing the recipe...and succeeded. Now at this point, you are probably ready to punch your fist through the screen and demand to know what exactly IS a Milton Milkshake, and you'll probably be disappointed when you hear it because really, it's no big deal. You take a bit of hot espresso and whip it together with ground cinnamon and a splash of hazelnut syrup. Then you top it off with a drizzle of milk and a mini-mountain of ice cream and whir it all together until it's creamy and luscious. This milkshake, and you must believe me, is greater than the sum of its parts.

kona the bear.

Kona begged for a taste, but I reassured him he wouldn't like it.

A quick word on presentation - don't sprinkle extra cinnamon on the top. I did, thinking it would look nice in the photo (it made no difference, obviously), only to have my sister and her manfriend choke on the first sip like the Cinnamon Challenge. Don't let this be you.

Inspired by The Drowsy Poet.


  1. Oh my god that youtube video is hilarious. Thank you for bringing it to me this afternoon Britt. And wow what a crazy college, so glad you got out of there when you did.

  2. Where do you get hazelnut syrup? I don't think they sell that in my country, either. :( How about nutella? It sounds really tasty.

  3. Yael - I got the syrup at the regular grocery store, but you can probably order it online, too. It was around $5 for the bottle and will probably last you forever. Nutella sounds delicious, too, but it will definitely give you a different, more chocolatey flavor, and you might have to add more milk to thin it out.

  4. Ok I'll have to try it either way! Hazelnut syrup here I come.

    This also reminds me of a summer I spent at Lynchburg College where we were strongly advised to stay away from scary Liberty people. Did you ever go to that horrible country bar Cattle Annie's nearby? That's just about all I remember from the area.

  5. Anonymous29.6.11

    Milton, as in the poet John Milton, who wrote Paradise Lost. Given that it was a poetry themed coffee place, that makes the most sense.

  6. Chrystal31.8.11

    I live in Lynchburg and am happy to report that there is still an "original" Drowsy Poet inside Givens Books, where you can get a real honest to goodness Milton. Ahhhh it is the best thing ever. So happy to have found a knock off and can't wait to try it!

  7. Well, I loved LU and all of it's craziness. I agree. People there are nuts. But Hallelujah for meeting normal people there and pushing the limits! ALSO, Hallelujah for you finding this!! I LOVE MILTONS and have been taking with a friend from here (who also transfered cause he couldn't handle the weirdos and no ocean) about Miltons and we've been talking about re-creating! So THANKS! We were lost without you, and lost without Miltons!

  8. Anonymous5.2.12

    I can't tell you how glad I am that you posted this! Saves me the work. I left LU this past summer to go to culinary school and I've been craving a milton for the past week. And although Smiley owns it, the Milton is still awesome, and he's a trip. Thanks for the recipe. Can't wait to try it!

  9. Anonymous1.6.12

    Wow I left LU in 2007 and I just started thinking about Milton's the other day and how they tasted A-M-A-Z-I-N-G and how I wanted one, but I don't wanna drive from 5 hrs to Lynchburg from West Virginia for a Milton! Thanks! :)


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.