While you might think that there is only one way to make a root beer float — adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream to a tall glass and filling it to the brim with root beer — there is actually quite a bit of flexibility and variety to this delicious treat. Below are several variations and tweaks to the old recipe that are sure to excite your taste buds.
The Brown Cow
Chocolate and vanilla are dire opposites in the world of ice cream flavors and the brown cow takes this approach toward the root beer. Simply trade out your vanilla ice cream for a scoop or two of chocolate. There also exists an ethnic variant in the “Mexican brown cow” that uses Mexican dark chocolate ice cream laden with hints of nutmeg and cinnamon.
The Yellow Cow
This recipe comes from Mexico and trades out the ice cream for lemon sherbet.
The Purple Cow
This variant keeps the ice cream but trades out the root beer for grape soda.
This Brazilian variant is known as “vaca dourada,” and involves guarana soda and vanilla ice cream.
Grown Up Style
This variant follows the same basic recipe as a regular root beer float but swaps out the “kiddie stuff” for alcoholic root beer. There is also something to be said for the Southern specialty that is it “bourbon float.” A bourbon float involves two scoops of bourbon-flavored ice cream, bourbon, root beer syrup and vanilla ice cream.
Double Root Beer, All the Way
The world of ice cream flavors has come a long way from the origins of the root beer float, which happened somewhere within the United States in the latter half of the 1800s. This particular take on a root beer float plays around with the ice cream in the same manner as the “brown cow” recipe from earlier by swapping out the vanilla ice cream for scoops of root-beer-flavored ice cream.
Root Beer Floating on Custard
While some places have taken to swapping out the ice cream used in their root beer floats, only a fraction of them have approached this angle by changing the ice cream to something completely different. Some places will use vanilla custard in lieu of any sort of ice cream in order to produce a float that is even creamier and thicker than what comes from using ice cream.
This twist is just perfect for anyone who loves their milkshakes. A root beer freeze is what you call a mixture of root beer and ice cream pureed together in a blender.
Root Beer With Gelato
Yet another twist on the classic root beer float involving something other than ice cream would be floats made with egg-based gelato. The end result is a root beer float that is far denser than any other twist on this list.
While most recipes will trade out the ice cream or change the flavor from vanilla, some people have taken to using cream soda in lieu of root beer, while keeping the ice cream traditional. This is how you get a cream float.
Mint Vodka Float
This version of the recipe uses mint chocolate chip ice cream instead of vanilla and is garnished with vodka-infused whipped cream.
Coffee Almond Float
Forget about vanilla and try adding coffee-flavored ice cream to your root beer, topped with a type of whipped cream that incorporates the taste of almonds.
Root Beer Shot
This is a layer shot that involves half an ounce of Bailey’s and 1 ounce of root-beer-flavored Schnapps. Simply pour the Schnapps into the shot glass and then follow it up with the Bailey’s.
While this Georgian summer staple pairs Coca-Cola soda with vanilla ice cream, any dark soda is sufficient.
This regional variant involves ginger ale, ideally Vernors brand ginger ale, and vanilla ice cream. About the oddest thing about this version is that the region is actually Detroit, rather than anywhere within Massachusetts, specifically from either Boston Boulevard or the Boston Edison neighborhood.
This is a float that combines a clear soda, such as 7 Up or Sprite, and vanilla ice cream.
Anyone familiar with the “Harry Potter” franchise ought to perk up at this drink’s name. Butterbeer involves cream soda, butterscotch and a cream foam.
This version is well-known in New Orleans and Ohio and incorporates both almond and vanilla syrup, sweetened condensed milk (instead of ice cream) and just a hit of red food coloring to produce a deliciously sweet and pink drink.
This is a Japanese drink that involves melon soda on the rocks and topped with a scoop of vanilla.
As you can see from this sizable list of tweaks, adjustments and alterations, it is rather easy to come up with your own personal spin on this classic drink. Maybe you have a particular flavor of ice cream above all others. Try playing around with various carbonated drinks until you come up with a personal float that speaks to you.