MILKSHAKE MASTERSHere's the scoop about the milkshakes at K&J's Elegant Pastries and Creamery: They reign supreme.
By Emily Sparacino
Photos by Dawn Harrison
Kristal and Jonathan Bryant want to see your “shake face.”
At their Alabaster business, K&J’s Elegant Pastries and Creamery, such a face can be made only when someone devours one of Kristal’s handcrafted milkshakes.
It sounds simple enough, but don’t underestimate the magnitude of a K&J’s milkshake. Impressive in size and design, the now-famous milkshakes evolved from an idea Kristal, 34, had to bring beautifully crafted creations she saw in places like New York and Disney World to Alabama, and to stamp them with her own culinary signature.
“We were the first ones in the state to have these milkshakes,” Kristal says, adding, “I think ours stand out more.”
Each K&J’s milkshake flavor is inspired by someone in her family. The Strawberry Shortcake flavor is a nod to Kristal’s mother’s favorite ice cream bar. The Kollasal Jawdropper, nicknamed the “K&J,” is the shop’s signature shake and features a mixture of Kristal’s and Jonathan’s favorite sweets.
“My favorite treat is a brownie, and my husband’s favorite treat is an ice cream cookie,” Kristal says. “For everything else, anything we like we try to compress it into shakes. They’re great for sharing.”
The K&J and the Cotton Candy are among the shop’s bestsellers. Kristal rotates shakes depending on the availability of certain ice cream flavors. One of the newest shakes is the “Cookie Monster,” which features Blue Bell’s new Blue Monster ice cream (cookie dough mixed with cookies and cream ice cream) topped with cookie crisp, chocolate chips and a chocolate chip cupcake.
But before the shakes earned spots on the shop’s menu, Kristal perfected each one with preliminary illustrations, trial runs in the kitchen and taste-test approval from family and friends. “To see them come to life, it was a big thing.”
Each shake resembles a work of art, from top to bottom. Kristal’s attention to detail and design is ingrained from years of school and restaurant work.
She attended Culinard, The Culinary Institute of Virginia College in Birmingham from 2002-2004, but her focus was on savories, not sweets.
She also worked at different restaurants in the area. In her free time, she started making cakes for friends.
In 2013, she decided to step out on faith and open a baking business. Her first K&J’s storefront opened on June 1 on Kent Dairy Road across from Thompson Middle School.
At the first location, Kristal only sold cakes and cupcakes. Adding ice cream––and, in turn, milkshakes––has taken K&J’s to the next level.
“Our cake clientele has always supported the business, but shakes now are,” Kristal said. “I feel like finally people are seeing my work.”
Kristal and Jonathan relocated K&J’s to 236 1st Street South in Alabaster for more space. After renovations were completed, the new location opened in mid-February.
“The grand opening was a success,” she says. “A lot of people didn’t know about the shakes. We were able to post them on social media. We’re excited about that because our customers are helping us.”
Hashtags like #shakelife and #shakeface are becoming common ways to categorize K&J’s milkshake posts and customer experiences on social media.
Although it’s tough to take your attention off the milkshakes, Kristal and her team also make custom cakes for clients’ special events. “I’m self-taught with all my cakes,” she says. “It’s just a gift, I guess.”
K&J’s offers forty flavors of cupcakes. Typically, 10-12 flavors are available per day.
Are more K&J’s locations a possibility in the future? Yes, Kristal says. For now, serving the best milkshakes and treats her staff can assemble is her main focus. “This is something I’ve been doing for 10 years. We just hope that it stays like this and we make sure to take care of everybody. It has been a blessing.”