Coffee Cabinets (Rhode Island-Style Coffee Milkshakes) Recipe

American Classics

Lost classic desserts from our wide and varied past.

Coffee Cabinets (Rhode Island-Style Coffee Milkshakes) Recipe

[Photograph: Alexandra Penfold]

Rhode Islanders take their coffee/dairy beverages seriously; coffee milk was named the state drink in 1993, so it's no surprise that the Ocean State would be home to a mean coffee milkshake, known locally as a coffee cabinet.

If you prefer you can use your favorite brand of coffee syrup, but making your own at home is easy and allows you to customize the flavor to your favorite coffee roast or blend.

Note: Because this homemade syrup is made with just sugar rather than corn syrup, it won't be as viscous as the store-bought variety. Be careful not to over reduce the mixture or you'll end up with a syrup that's too thick to blend.

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  • Yield:serves 2
  • Active time: 20 minutes
  • Total time:1 hour


  • For the Coffee Syrup:
  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • For the Coffee Cabinet:
  • 1 pint coffee ice cream
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup chilled coffee
  • 2 tablespoons coffee syrup


  1. 1.

    In a medium saucepan dissolve sugar in coffee. Bring mixture to a light boil then reduce to simmer. Simmer until the mixture has reduced to form a slightly thickened syrup, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla extract. Cover and refrigerate to cool.

  2. 2.

    Add ice cream, milk, chilled coffee and coffee syrup to blender. Blend until smooth. If you prefer a thinner shake, you can add additional milk and/or chilled coffee, if desired.