Like a seven-layer dip after five minutes with a chip-wielding mob, the ice cream float is at its best when it looks a mess. That chilled scoop needs to meld into what’s in the glass, creating a foamy head, a likely puddle below and the kind of creamy drink that was intended when the float, a.k.a. ice cream soda, was invented in the 1870s.
You might think a written recipe amounts to overkill. What does it take beyond ice cream, soda, straw and spoon? Well, a little extra attention to ingredients pays off.
Start with this batch of floats for inspiration, and invest in a few long spoons.
MAKE AHEAD: The syrup can be refrigerated for up to 1 week, or frozen for up to 3 months.
For the syrup:
2 quarts 100-percent pure Concord grape juice
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
For the float
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) chilled plain seltzer, or as needed
One 4-ounce scoop good-quality vanilla ice cream (may substitute peanut butter ice cream)
For syrup: Combine Concord grape and lime juices in a saute pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium and cook for about 45 minutes, or until liquid has reduced to a syrupy consistency, and surface is covered in bubbles. Yield is about 1 cup; you’ll need 1/4 cup for this recipe. Store the rest in an airtight container in the refrigerator (for up to 1 week) or freezer (for up to 3 months).
Pour syrup into a mixing glass. Add about half the seltzer, then stir gently with a long spoon until well blended.
Pour into a tall glass, then gently drop in the scoop of ice cream. Add remaining seltzer to fill glass and create a foamy top. Serve right away, on a small plate to catch any overflow, and with a straw and a long spoon. Serves 1.
Based on a recipe from “The Soda Fountain: Floats, Sundaes, Egg Cream and More.”
Malted Root Beer Float
Fox’s U-Bet Malt Syrup is available through various online purveyors, including Amazon.com.
2 tablespoons Fox’s U-Bet Malt Syrup (optional; see headnote)
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) chilled root beer
One 4-ounce scoop good-quality vanilla or dulce de leche or sea salt caramel ice cream
Small handful malted milk balls, crushed, for garnish (optional)
Pour syrup, if using, into a tall glass. Add root beer to fill up to an inch or so from top, then stir gently with a long spoon to incorporate.
Gently drop in scoop of ice cream, then add remaining root beer to fill glass and create a foamy top.
Serve right away, on a small plate to catch any overflow, and with a straw and a long spoon. Top with the crushed malted milk balls, if using. Serves 1.
Adapted from a recipe at Hersheys.com.
Boozy Orange Pomegranate Float
3 1/2 tablespoons pomegranate syrup (molasses), plus more for drizzling
1 1/2 ounces gin
3/4 ounce orange-flavored liqueur, such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier
Dash orange bitters
3/4 cup (6 ounces) chilled plain seltzer, or as needed
4 small scoops vanilla gelato
Combine pomegranate syrup, gin, orange-flavored liqueur and orange bitters in mixing glass, stirring until well blended. Divide between 8-ounce rocks glasses.
Add 1 scoop of gelato to each glass, then gently pour in 1/2 cup seltzer.
Add a final scoop of gelato, then gently pour in more seltzer, to fill until foamy on top.
Drizzle a little more syrup on top, if desired. Serve right away, with a straw and a spoon. Serves 2.
Adapted from a recipe at SugarandCloth.com.