Like all Big Lebowski junkies, Bernie’s Burger Bus owner Justin Turner and his longtime pal, beverage consultant Linda Salinas, know two things: The Dude abides, and he loves White Russians. So when Turner asked Salinas to design a drink menu for his new Yale Street location—the third bricks-and-mortar BBB and the only one with a liquor license—one of her first thoughts was the 1998 Coen Brothers film’s antihero and his beloved beverage. “Yes, The Dude. Finally,” she recalls. “I wanted to do a play on that cocktail.”
One of a few boozy milkshakes on offer, The Dude combines vanilla ice cream, vodka and Kahlúa. “In all honesty, in my head I was like Mmm, fat kid flavors,” says Salinas. “I didn’t want to do a Campari milkshake.”
Nevertheless, the recipes are deceptively simple. The team not only tests and restructures drinks until they’re perfect, they make every possible component from scratch, with the ice creams in the shakes made in-house expressly for blending with booze.
“What I really like when I work with anything with Justin is he’s a real nerd,” says Salinas, who’s also the mind behind the cocktails at La Grange and the recent remakes at Hungry’s and Jonathan’s The Rub.
Other offerings include the Peanut Butter + Jelly, made with Chambord, and the surprise hit, Chocolate + Coconut, a rich chocolate shake mixed with coconut rum and topped with peanuts. “I don’t really like coconut,” admits Salinas, “but the coconut rum shines.”
The sophisticated menu, some of which is seasonal, goes beyond the milkshake, too. Guests shouldn’t miss pairing their burgers with a Blackberry Bramble or a Grapefruit Paloma, which, rather than grapefruit juice, is made with a bittersweet combo of Aperol and Squirt—yet another appropriately playful drink for the school-themed restaurant that’s assuredly not for kids.