5 Fun Ice Cream Float Ideas For Summer

Is there a more iconic summer treat than the ice cream float? We think not, so let’s take a look at the history of the float, how to make one, and some fun variations on the classic!

What is an ice cream float?
An ice cream float is a drink that typically consists of two ingredients – ice cream and a carbonated liquid. The liquid can be a soft drink like root beer or cola, or a carbonated water (such as seltzer or club soda) combined with a flavored syrup.

When was it invented?
The most commonly shared story of the ice cream float attributes its creation to drugstore clerk Robert M. Green, who was operating a soda fountain during the Philadelphia World’s Fair in 1876. Having bought himself some ice cream during his lunch break he decided to scoop it into a glass of soda from the fountain where he was working. He tried this creation out on his customers, who loved it, and the ice cream float was born!

Ice cream float vs. ice cream soda
Nowadays the two terms are used interchangeably. But originally ice cream soda was only made using ice cream and carbonated water flavored with syrup.

How do you make an ice cream float?
There’s truly no “wrong” way to make an ice cream float – simply combine a few scoops of ice cream along with your choice of carbonated beverage in a tall glass and enjoy! The classic combination is vanilla ice cream with cola. If you’re “team froth”, add the ice cream first and then pour the soda over. For less froth, reverse the process.

That said, there are a few tips to make your float “extra”:

– Start with a chilled glass: pop those glasses in the freezer prior to serving, for next level frostiness and longer-lasting enjoyment.
– Line your glasses: before adding your ice cream and soda, spoon, pour or drizzle your favorite spread or syrup along the inside of the glass. Think chocolate syrup, cookie butter, jam or peanut butter. It looks so pretty and adds extra flavor!
– Garnish the rim: dip the rim of your glass in either syrup (if you’re using) or some softened ice cream, then immediately dip in your choice of garnish. We love sprinkles, chopped nuts, crushed cookies, toasted coconut and cake crumbs.

Our Five Favorite Ice cream Float Variations
While we have yet to meet an ice cream float we didn’t love, here are our top five ways to make one – let your imagination and creativity go from there!

Chocolate Float
Chocolate on chocolate is always a great idea and this rich float would make the perfect party-ending dessert or simple summer treat for the whole family. Combine chocolate syrup or other chocolate ice cream topping with soda water in a glass and mix thoroughly (the glass should be about 3/4 full). Top with a scoop of chocolate ice cream and a drizzle of chocolate syrup.

Strawberries & Cream
Summer and strawberries go hand in hand. Translating a strawberries and cream dessert into a chilly float is as natural as firefly catching on a summer’s night. Puree some fresh or frozen strawberries with a little sugar and a little lime juice to make a syrup. (We recommend straining it to remove any seeds, but that’s up to you!) Combine the puree with some soda water to make a homemade version of strawberry soda and pour it over scoops of vanilla ice cream. Top with homemade or store-bought whipped cream and amp it up with another drizzle of strawberry syrup, curls of white chocolate, and/or some diced fresh strawberries.

Ice Cream Float Popsicle
What’s better than an ice cream float? Possibly an ice cream float on a stick! Place maraschino cherries into the bottoms of some popsicle molds, top with some softened ice cream, then fill with soda (we especially love root beer for this version). Insert your popsicle sticks, freeze, and enjoy – no straw needed!

Granita Float
Swap the soda for your favorite granita – a frozen treat similar to shaved ice. Granita can be made with fruit or coffee and pairs perfectly with layers of creamy ice cream. You can also use sorbet, which is a little different from granita in that it is churned, not scraped, resulting in a smoother texture. Both are delicious!

Boozy Float
Strictly for grownups, a boozy float is a fun and unique way to end a festive meal, party or barbecue! Create your float using your favorite ingredients, add mix-ins if desired, and finish with a splash of your favorite alcoholic beverage! Choose alcohol that pairs well flavor-wise with your ice cream and soda – for example:

“Mimosa” – Orange juice/vanilla ice cream/champagne
“Mojito” – Lemon-lime soda/lime sorbet/vodka
“Pina Colada” – Pineapple juice or soda/coconut ice cream/rum
“Irish Coffee” – Guinness or cola/ coffee ice cream/ Bailey’s Irish cream

So, what float will you be trying?