I really enjoy blended drinks and so do many other people. They can be very tasty, sometimes quite healthy, and are great both on the go and when you have time to sit and enjoy a drink. Often these terms are used interchangeable, but there is somewhat of a difference which can be quite important. Here are some of the main differences.
A Milkshake is a sweet and cold drink and as the name implies, contains milk. It also contains ice cream and may contain flavorings like fruit concentrate or chocolate, which can also serve to sweeten the beverage. No one claims there are any health benefits to milkshakes, just that they taste great!
Normally in most good restaurants they are prepared by hand. The ingredients are mixed and shaken by hand. Fast food restaurants may use a mixing machine to mix a premade mixture together with flavorings. There are actually many variants, for example, a “malt” which uses malted milk. In some countries like England and Australia they are actually often made without ice cream.
A frappe is simply a thick milkshake, and the term seems most common in New England. Often they are coffee flavored and called a coffee frappe.
Originally, in the 1880s to early 1900s, milkshakes contained alcohol. You will rarely see one of those today, and if you do, the term milkshake is not used.
A Smoothie is similar to a milkshake, in fact there is not necessarily a clear cut delineation, but some drinks clearly fall into one camp or the other. Here are the important differences.
Smoothies are much more likely to contain fruit, protein powder, herbal supplements, vegetables, and green tea. They are often touted as healthy, and indeed many may be, whereas a milkshake is all pleasure. Often they will contain yogurt instead of milk. Sometimes they are used as meal replacements for weight loss, or as meal supplements for weight gain among bodybuilders. The term originated in the 1960s to describe fruit and vegetable drinks.
Some drinks can clearly fall into either camp. For example, after my weigh lifting workout today, I had a blended and chilled drink made from soy protein powder, a banana, milk, some strawberries, chopped ice, and a bit of ice cream as well. You might call this whatever you would like, but it was delicious and nourishing.
Most commonly people made these styles of drinks at home with a blender these days. The blender serves to both mix the drink and sometimes chop or pulverize some of the ingredients, for example ice, fruit, or nuts.