It all started many years ago, presumably with the root beer float. And why not? It is the perfect dessert, particularly in summertime. Simple to prepare, cold, rich, effervescent, creamy, sassafrassy. Plus, it comes in a fancy, tall glass and can be eaten with a spoon and sipped through a straw, each mode of intake offering a totally different experience. Somewhere between then and now, the float has been taken in seemingly endless directions, and each time I think I've heard it all, some new twist comes along.
Some float renditions feature fruit flavored sodas, such as black cherry or blueberry, and with new brands of natural fruit sodas such as Fizzy Lizzy and Hot Lips, the flavor combinations are endless. Other floats play off of the flavors of cream soda or ginger ale and instead of vanilla ice cream, come with chocolate ice cream or fruity sorbets. This recipe for a raspberry ice cream and ginger ale float is one of my favorite flavor combinations.
Classic creamsicle fans have been known to recreate their childhood favorite with orange soda and vanilla ice cream, but newer versions I've seen feature orange soda and chocolate ice cream, orange soda and mango sorbet and even grapefruit soda and vanilla ice cream.
Not long ago I learned about a new float craze featuring rich, dark beer, such as Guinness Stout, and vanilla ice cream. I was skeptical when I first tried it, but have to admit that there is something about the frothy, bitter beer and the creamy, vanilla ice cream that really works well together. Not surprisingly, the beer float is now also being tweaked with new takes and twists. For St. Patrick's day this year the blogger Food Blogga offered an interesting twist on the beer float that used a Kona coffee infused beer and coffee ice cream and the website Epicurious features a recipe for a vanilla-stout float spiked with a shot of blackberry brandy.
The variations are obviously endless and I'm sure it won't be long before we start seeing more savory floats become popular, such as those incorporating herb or vegetable based sorbets topped off with sparkling water or sparkling wine. I can imagine flavors such as basil, tarragon, fennel or beets each providing a really interesting new twist on this old classic.