Little known nautical fact: The best fuel for a day on the water is a milkshake.

Dad sailed the The Great Lakes. We would slump across the back seats while the adults drove through the night from Iowa City to Bayfield, Wisconsin, where we'd roll out—weary, bleary—for a breakfast of diner milkshakes. Then we'd gear up and shove off.

The trips weren't fun. More like bracing. We learned port and starboard, fore and aft, jib and spinnaker. We learned to hoist the sheets, tie off the lines, watch the boom. When we caught the wind tight against the mainsail, we learned to lean out over the chop, spray stinging against our grins.

And yet, I'm no sailor. Never got navigation; always got seasick. Dad found saltier mates and struck out across the saltless lakes. By the time I was working college summers in Chicago, I had been demoted to crewing his lunchtime sails.

Perhaps Dad had hopes for the next generation. Once, he planned a tame excursion for my family, joining a flotilla down the Chicago River, through the locks and onto Lake Michigan. At one moment, we found ourselves on a boat, watching a train, under a drawbridge—a peak experience for a 2-year-old boy. We sailed calm waters into Wisconsin and dropped anchor. In the harbor, we met a friendly family; the mom wore a thick veil that fell from head to toe. We slept on board and, in the morning, sailed home.

My travelers returned wiser. They had learned to crank the winch, to stand at the helm, to expect milkshakes for breakfast. And, they had seen something of the world. Soon after, walking on Michigan Avenue, we passed a shopper wearing a thick veil that fell from head to toe. "She looks like she's from far away," my daughter explained. "She looks like she's from Sheboygan."

Chocolate Milkshake
Credit: Brie Passano

Chocolate Milkshake


1/2 cup half-and-half

2 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken up

1 pint premium vanilla ice cream, such as Häagen Dazs


1 Place half-and-half and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and zap to melt, about 30 seconds. Whisk until smooth, then chill until no longer warm, about 20 minutes, whisking occasionally.

2 Scoop ice cream into a blender or food processor. Add chocolate mixture. Blend until smooth. Pour into 2 glasses. Slurp.

Tip: Using the best chocolate and ice cream you can find ensures a super rich shake. You won't want more than a small glass!

Malty Chip Milkshake


1 ounce milk chocolate, broken up

½ teaspoon refined coconut oil

1 pint premium vanilla ice cream, such as Häagen Dazs

1/4 cup half-and-half

6 tablespoons plain malted milk powder

1/4 teaspoon vanilla


1 Place chocolate and oil in a microwave-safe bowl and zap, in 10-second bursts, to melt. Stir smooth, then let cool 5 minutes.

2 Scoop ice cream into a blender or food processor. Drizzle chocolate over ice cream; it will harden. Add half-and-half, malted milk powder, and vanilla. Blend until smooth and studded with chocolate bits. Pour into 2 glasses. Slurp.

Tip: Drink this thick, ultra-rich shake through an oversized straw or employ a spoon to eat it like ice cream.