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After I grew out of my half pants, I stopped thinking of milkshakes as a big deal. They were a regular part of family outings when I was a kid, but when the phrase “cheat day” becomes your life’s biggest irony (you’re trying really hard to not let every day be one, that is), you need to move on from childhood favourites. Suddenly, though, in the last year or so, milkshakes have made a booming comeback in Indian metros, with specialty outlets opening up every month. Even pubs and restaurants have started offering options — and adult concoctions, to my delight — making sure that milkshakes are not a kid’s dessert drink any more. Big players like Keventers and Di Bella are back in the market, with updated versions of time-tested classics and crazy adaptations of classic recipes.

Started in 1925 by Edward Keventer, Keventers used to be a prominent player in the dairy industry. By 1940, it had been acquired by Ram Krishna Dalmia and, after various milestones, (and bosses), lost steam. The brand was finally revived in 2015. “When we were re-establishing Keventers, we wanted to create a distinct identity for our milkshakes as a viable beverage for today’s customers, especially the millennials, by giving it a modern, cool and aspirational avatar,” says Sohrab Sitaram, CEO and Director, Keventers. “With the generation X customer, we built our brand’s connect by imbibing and invoking history, memory and nostalgia. In the case of millennials, there was no understanding or connect with the brand. We needed to build a far more engaging strategy to capture the attention of the new generation. We built this connect by inciting patriotism and the made-inIndia aspect of the brand. We devised environment- friendly products like the glass bottles in which the milkshakes are served, we fashioned the look and feel of the brand on retro-chic lines, thus making it more appealing to the millennial customers.”

When Di Bella introduced their Freakshakes in India, people instantly queued up to try (and Instagram) them out. These monstrous creations are meals by themselves, promising a sugar high akin to a couple of bottles of cola. If you ask me, they deserve parental control. “Coffee By Di Bella sold over 5500 FreakShakes in the first week of launch,” says Rahul Leekha, Director, Coffee By Di Bella. “It is a carefully crafted concoction which needs a delicate balance to present the chaotic indulgence that a FreakShake is. We at Coffee By Di Bella were the first to introduce India to the FreakShake. The concept was born in Australia, and we believed it was our duty to bring it to India. In fact, our chefs in Mumbai worked hand in hand with our chefs from Australia to create the signature line that we serve across our stores. Our highlight presentation is the Melbourne-inspired FreakShake, created by Master Chocolatier Arno Backes, which is blended with a luscious, premium chocolate milkshake, thick chocolate ganache with rich cream, dark chocolate crispy pearls, milk chocolate shots, Victoria chocolate sticks, Oreos and swirls of whipped cream topped with an Aussie waffle.” Personally, I am not a fan of freakshakes, because they don’t allow for a meal before or after. Also, the clutter of elements just takes away from the actual milkshake experience. The trend is definitely a hit with customers, though, because many restaurants and pubs have created their own versions of gigantic freakshakes, and they are quite popular on the menu.

My personal favourites are the adult milkshakes at D:OH! “With D:OH! the philosophy was always to do drinks that are fun and which have never been done before. The Adult Shakes are primarily milkshakes made with wine and beer. During trials, we realised that we all love bacon and, out of jest, the bartender added it and it turned out to be delicious. That led to the Becky Bacon and we have received quiet a positive response for it as well,” says Pawan Raina, head bartender and business head, D:OH!

How is Keventers competing with the freakshake trend? “Freakshakes constitute a completely different market altogether, which is separate from what we offer. Freakshakes are a more gourmet option, where chefs are experimenting to make rich milkshakes with multiple ingredients. We strive to create products that are light, fresh and made with minimal ingredients,” says Sitaram. And what plans does Keventers have for the future? “We are setting achievable short term goals for ourselves, because within two years of operations, we have established over 140 outlets across India and Nepal. During the rest of this year, we plan to enter the Middle East region, followed by North America and Africa.”

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