Sorry, McDonald’s, but no way are we waiting until March for our mint dessert drink fix.
I’m not generally in the habit of telling tremendously successful international companies that they’ve screwed up in their marketing, but I really think that McDonald’s has sort of backed itself into a corner with the Shamrock Shake. Yes, I know it’s green, like a clover, but the flavor is mint. Mint isn’t just delicious, it’s cooling too, and restricting sales of the Shamrock Shake to the period around St. Patrick’s Day, when the weather is often still pretty chilly, seems like a bit of a mismatch, naming aside.
On the other hand, Cafe de Crie, a popular chain of cafes with locations across Japan, has pinpointed late June, when the weather here starts to get hot and steamy, as the perfect time to roll out a pair of new mint chocolate shakes, and so we rolled into our local branch to try them.
In addition to coffees, juices, and light fare, Cafe de Crie offers a line of shakes which it calls “Sorbege.” As of June 21, the Sobege Mint Chocolate and Sorbet Extra Mint Chocolate were added to the lineup, and they definitely look the part.
We decided to work our way up the ladder of mintiness by starting with the standard Mint Chocolate, which comes topped with an enticing swirl of whipped cream drizzled with chocolate sauce, plus numerous chocolate chips mixed into the beverage itself. With its soothing shade of light blue-green, the drink has the power to make you feel a few degrees cooler just by looking at it.
While Sorbet Mint Chocolate’s name gives equal billing to its mint and chocolate elements, it’s the mint that’s really the star of the show. The chocolate sauce and chips provide a bit of sweetness, but what really gets your taste buds firing is the rush of cool mint that comes with each and every sip.
From its name, you might expect the Sorbet Extra Mint Chocolate to be have a more intense color than its standard-strength counterpart, but it’s actually a little darker.
▼ Sorbet Mint Chocolate (left) and Sorbet Extra Mint Chocolate (right)
We noticed right away that the Extra Mint Chocolate doesn’t have any chocolate sauce on top, and that’s a pretty telling indication of what to expect. Yes, it still includes chocolate chips, but the Extra Mint is, above all else, a laser-focused mint delivery system, with any other flavor or sensation being a distant second in the impression it leaves.
In Japan, mint chocolate tends to be a pretty divisive flavor among foodies, and Cafe de Crie’s new shakes aren’t likely to change anyone’s mind one way or another. They’re very much love-them-or-hate-them dessert beverages, but after a sip of each drink chocolate mint lovers will definitely find themselves becoming part of a chocolate mint love triangle.
Follow Casey on Twitter, where he is totally on board with Japan’s mint chocolate boom.
[ Read in Japanese ]