Disclaimer: This post is part of Heinen’s #SummerWithHeinens campaign. I was given a gift card in exchange for a post about my summer food memories. As always, my thoughts are 100% my own.
It’s the first week of August. How did THAT happen?? I swear this summer flew by. But I’m determined to soak up the summer vibe as long as I can, and sipping a float is one way I’ll do it. And as luck would have it, today (August 6) is National Root Beer Float Day.
I have such fantastic memories of making root beer floats with my Busia. I used to stay with her for a week or two every summer and one of my favorite parts of each stay was the evenings when we’d have some sort of cold treat as she gossiped with her neighbor and I caught fireflies. Some nights we’d have Fudgsicles, but the best nights are when we had root beer floats.
We each had our idea of the perfect float – I crammed my glass with ice cream and topped it with a bit of root beer. She’d fill her glass partway with soda then add a small scoop of vanilla. Either way, straws and long spoons were a must – it was a treat I rarely had at home so I savored every sip. Every year I have a float on her birthday in her memory.
So when my favorite local grocery store, Heinen’s, contacted me to be part of their #SummerWithHeinens campaign it was perfect timing. When they asked about a cherished summer food memory; I immediately thought of those evenings sipping root beer floats with my Busia and my brain started buzzing with ideas on how to expand on the idea of a float. Armed with some delicious, local Mitchell’s ice cream and a variety of bubbly drinks from Heinen’s I got to work.
First up… a classic float along with a hard root beer float. This isn’t a new concept but I was eager to try the classic with a grown-up twist. For the classic we used Maine Root’s root beer and we grabbed some Not Your Father’s Root Beer for the adult version (both of which you can get single bottles at Heinen’s!). Both were perfect – creamy and sharp, full of foam and bubbles.
From there we decided to try a creamy oatmeal stout with vanilla ice cream. Beer + ice cream = an interesting mix. We used Hoppin’ Frog B.O.R.I.S. The Crusher Oatmeal-Imperial Stout. I’m not a big beer drinker so this was my least favorite combo. Mark liked it okay, but thought a milk stout would be a better pairing. One thing is for sure, good vanilla ice cream is a must here!
Then we tried out a variation on a root beer float, a Boston Cooler (which is named for Detroit’s Boston Boulevard, not the town in MA). Simply swap your root beer for ginger ale (some say it MUST be the original ginger ale – Vernor’s). And, if you want, rather than scooping and pouring over the soda, you can blend this one in a blender. Either way, the sharp ginger pairs delightfully with the smooth vanilla – both whiskey and rum go very nicely in this if you want an adult beverage. We made one with Vernor’s and one with Boylan Ginger Ale. Both were a refreshing twist on the the root beer but we thought the Boylan was a bit to sharp; the creamy Vernor’s paired better with the vanilla ice cream.
And finally, of you want to go pinkies-up fancy may I suggest a French 75 float? You want to make this, trust me. The French 75 is a classic cocktail with made with gin, Champagne, lemon juice and sugar. What’s not to love? You can make this a fun summer treat by swapping the lemon juice and sugar with a homemade lemon sorbet. (Or, take a short cut with Heinen’s Two Brothers 100% fruit sorbet.)
1 c. water
1 c. sugar
1 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice (yes, it must be fresh and not bottled!)
2 tablespoons lemon zest
Over medium heat combine the water and sugar in a saucepan and boil until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add lemon zest; allow syrup to cool. Stir in the lemon juice, pour mixture into the bowl of an ice cream maker. Churn according to manufacturer instructions. When the sorbet has frozen into ice crystals (it will still be very soft), transfer to a storage container, cover tightly and freeze at least overnight or until ready to serve.
French 75 Float
Add one scoop of your lemon sorbet to a flute, add 1 oz. of your favorite gin, top with champagne and garnish with a lemon wedge. (I bet you could apply this concept to a bellini – make or buy a peach sorbet and top with prosecco!)