A few months ago, a new race of milkshakes exploded across the internet. Monsters covered in piles of candy. Cups of candy and icing with whipped cream and chocolate, 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.
While my bud Cailin came to visit New York for a few days, it was our first order of business: try these epic milkshakes for ourselves!
Online attention to get into
Black Tap used to be a simple burger, Beer, and milkshake bar in SoHo. They then started making 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 is 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 initially planned to go to the largest location in the Meatpacking district, then realized that they opened 30 minutes after than SoHo, then decided on luck and go down to SoHo, a mile and a half way.
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 attention will be. Sir, attention could be as long as six hours.”
SIX O’CLOCK! I think we bleached when we heard that. At least we had been told it would be about an hour.
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 A.M.
I was surprised at how small a place Black Tap is-it seats around 14 people, with room for a few to stand.
But what surprised 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.
Tap Black Milkshakes
There are currently four milkshakes from which to choose.
Sweet N’sty: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”Again, I am very happy to have had the experience.
Cailin: “If the lines went away and they suddenly became affordable, 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 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 level of patience.
But if the wait were three, four, six hours? No way. I don’t want to wait 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 here-small for advice on a shorter’s attention.
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 photos for me? Debatable. There was too much excitement for me to be crafty! It was definitely worth it for the Snapchat and entertaining pictures of the two of us with them.”
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:
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 have a lot of tea to try and the teapots are so beautiful. There is one with red poppies on her that I like to have if alone I have a room for her in my apartment…
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 was a purple-orange-white swirly bagel and I was 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 Yorkkers 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 in Greenwich Village. This place is great. Fun, presence-free ice cream concoctions, most of them with gentle service, 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.)