The perfect summer dessert – for kids of all ages
Ice cream might be the ultimate summer dessert. You know all about that. But shrub? And why call this an ice cream soda rather than a float?
Patience, grasshopper. All will be revealed. For the moment, just think about cool, refreshing ice cream mixed with sweet but tangy shrub.
It’s great for the 4th of July. Especially since shrubs were extremely popular in colonial America. So this drink offers a taste of America’s culinary history.
Let the fireworks begin.
Recipe: Ice Cream Shrub Soda with Booze (or not)
For this recipe, you’ll need ice cream, shrub syrup, soda (seltzer) water, and an alcoholic spirit (that last ingredient is optional, and only for the adults, of course). BTW, this recipe calls for a fairly small amount of booze (one ounce). We’re after flavor here, so you don’t need much.
We talked about shrubs and shrub syrup at length a couple weeks ago. As noted in that post, a classic shrub syrup contains equal parts of fruit, sugar, and vinegar. Making shrub syrup was a popular method for preserving fruit in both Britain and America before refrigeration arrived. For an ice cream soda, we recommend using a berry shrub syrup (we used raspberry), but any fruit will do.
This recipe is adapted from Michael Dietsch’s book Shrubs: An Old Fashioned Drink for Modern Times.
This recipe takes about 5 minutes to prepare, and serves 1.
- 2 scoops ice cream (we favor vanilla, but any flavor you like will work fine; sherbet works well too)
- 2 ounces Shrub Syrup
- 1 ounce rum, bourbon, Grand Marnier, or other spirit of choice (optional; see Notes)
- unflavored soda/seltzer water (amount varies depending on the size of your glass)
- garnish of whipped cream (optional)
- garnish of maraschino cherry (or other fruit; optional)
- Add 2 scoops of ice cream to a tall glass. Add the shrub syrup and alcoholic spirit (if using).
- Fill the glass with soda or seltzer water. Stir with a long-handled spoon. Top off with additional soda water if necessary.
- Garnish, if you like, with whipped cream and/or a maraschino cherry. Add straws, and serve. A tall spoon (like an iced tea spoon) is a handy aid when consuming one of these beauties.
- So how does an ice cream soda differ from an ice cream float? A float typically combines ice cream with a flavored soft drink (such as root beer). An ice cream soda generally uses plain soda water (or seltzer) and a flavored syrup. But many people use the terms interchangeably, which is fine with us.
- We think unflavored seltzer works best in this recipe, but feel free to substitute a soft drink of your choice. Root beer is a favorite of ours – though with shrub syrup, we think ginger ale would be a better choice.
- You could also use ginger beer (we haven’t tried that yet, but it sounds tasty).
- If you elect to use alcohol in this drink, what should you choose? We think rum (amber or dark) works very well with vanilla ice cream. Bourbon would be our second choice. After that? Well, feel free to experiment. Brandy or Grand Marnier liqueur would be interesting to try. Pimm’s might also be a fun choice. Or vodka, if you just want to add buzz without additional flavor. We haven’t tried Demerara rum in this recipe, but we suspect that its smoky flavor would be outstanding.
- A local restaurant we frequent serves a boozy root beer float that contains corn liquor (basically, moonshine). That’s a fun combo, but if we wanted to add something extra to a root beer float, we’d vote for Gosling’s Black Seal rum. It’s a dark rum that has notes of root beer to it – a good match.
- If you want to make this dessert even more luscious, you can drizzle some chocolate or hot fudge syrup on top.
- In our post on Root Beer Floats, we discuss some history on the ice cream soda. Quick recap: Back in the day, ice cream sodas were sold mainly at pharmacy soda fountains. That’s because soda water – one of the main ingredients – was considered a high-powered cure that required regulation (like alcohol). So most soda water was sold in pharmacies.
- Many areas that banned the sale of alcohol on Sundays adopted the same rule for soda water. So no ice cream sodas on Sunday.
- One story says that pharmacies adapted to the restriction by serving a special dish on Sundays: Ice cream topped with whipped cream, maraschino cherries, and maybe some chopped nuts. But no soda water! They called this dish an ice cream sundae (get it?)
“Mmmm, love me some ice cream soda,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs.
“Yup,” I said. “And the rum works really well in it.”
“Firewater for the 4th of July,” said Mrs K R.
“My kind of fireworks,” I said.
“Hey,” said Mrs K R. “Did you hear that Dracula’s favorite ice cream flavor is veinilla?”
“Indeed,” I said. “Our electrician prefers shock a lot.”
“We better stop with these awful jokes,” said Mrs K R. “Before ice cream.”
Or our readers do.
You may also enjoy reading about:
Berry Shrub and Shrub Syrup
Root Beer Floats
Easy Peach Cobbler
No-Churn Cherry Ice Cream with Chocolate
No-Cook Fruit Fool
Or check out the index for more
Happy Birthday John,
Love this drink , the cat's meow .
My kids will love it too , make them feel all grown up without the booze .
Things are fine in my neck of the woods , I miss everyone hope to be back soon .
Ask Mrs. KF to give you a big hug for me .
Hi Nee, thanks for the birthday wishes. And Happy Birthday to you! Will be stopping by your blog later today -- look forward to you posting on a regular basis soon. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Wonderful drink especially in this hot weather. I love ice cream and this is so delicious looking. Ice Cream Shrub Soda is cool and refreshing with or without the booze. Thanks for sharing this one with all of us..Also wanted to wish you a splendid Happy Birthday today! I know that it is your birthday today with Louise and Nee..Hope that you and Mrs. R. enjoy your special day! Chin, Chin!
Hi John, very interesting post, love the history behind the ice cream sundae. I made a shrub last year and we enjoyed it very much. Will try this version, looks and sounds delicious, take care!
Hi Dottie, thanks for the Birthday wishes! Should enjoy it with one of these. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Cheri, shrub syrup and ice cream is a dynamite combo! SO good -- really worth trying. Thanks for the comment.
This is going on my 4th of July menu for sure! My 5-year old grandson will love it! Thanks for reminding me of this yummy bev :)
With booze of not I would love to have one of that!
I agree with Cheri, John this is such an interesting post. I had no idea that an ice cream float and ice cream soda differed from each other. And, what a beauty this shrub soda is!
Hi Pat, bet your grandson will indeed love this! Ice cream sodas are always fun, aren't they? Thanks for the comment.
Hi Raymund, me too! Need to make these again, soon. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Shashi, I was always confused about the difference between a float and a soda before I looked it up. Still use the words interchangeably, but who cares? :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love this drink because just omit the booze and you have a lovely drink the kids will love!
Soda, floats, both sound fabulous to me. Ice cream is always good, but this shrub sounds so refreshing! I especially like that everyone can enjoy the same drink, with or without alcohol.
Happy Bday!!! My husband is obsessed with shrubs - I have to send this to him!
On a bleak winter's day downunder, this ice cream soda looks divine!
I have never had an ice cream soda. Definitely it is time to try it!
Happy Birthday John! My daughter's birthday is Friday so I'm hoping to try this. Looks delicious!
Ahh, reminds me of the 1950s when I used to have a root beer float at the local Rexall Drug Store- sitting up at the counter on one of those seats that swirl around. Those days are gone, buy maybe I can bring back the memories with your recipe!
Hi Peachy, definitely omit the booze for the kids! :-) It takes just as good. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Deb, the shrub is really good stuff! SO tasty. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Alyssa, your husband will love this! Thanks for the B-Day greeting, and the comment.
Hi Lizzy, this would be a great way to bring memories of summer heat to your cold winter! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Denise, definitely try an ice cream soda. Bet you'll like it. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Debra, Happy Birthday to your daughter! You'll both love this. :-) Thanks for the B-Day greeting, and the comment.
Hi Fran, I remember Rexall's and I remember those swiveling stools! Fun, weren't they? Thanks for the comment.
NO booze for me, but LOTS OF VANILLA please!!! <3
It does look perfect for the 4th! It's certain to be a hot one, and a ice boozy ice cream soda with links to the colonial days is a terrific idea! Sounds like the way to celebrate!
We call ice-cream soda (without the booze), a spider in Australia. I have absolutely no idea why? But I adore your version, the cheeky shot of rum, bourbon or Grand Marnier is a real treat. Cant wait to try!
Hi GiGi, vanilla ice cream is good stuff, isn't it? Thanks for the comment.
Hi Liz, you've probably been having the same hot weather we've been having. Need a couple of these to cool off. :-) Thanks for the comment.
HI Anna, never knew that spider thing! Have to do some reading on that. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This is such a interesting post. Added in my to do list. Looks so beautiful and delicious!
Wow, the ice cream shrub soda looks super awesome!!
This looks freaking awesome John!!! What a great way to take the heat off with the 100 degree temps that we're having. This I have to make! Thanks!
HI Kushi, my to do list is miles long! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Shibi, it's really a fun recipe! Tasty, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi MJ, it's been close to 100 here, too. So more of these are in order. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Happy 4th July! And this boozy ice soda is awesome!!! Must be really fun and cheery to enjoy this drink on this summery holiday :D
You are the King Fu of cocktails! Beautiful Summer drink!
Hi Zoe, this drink really does help cool us down in the hot summer weather. :-) And it's really hot here, and has been for the last couple of weeks. And it's not even July! :-( Thanks for the comment.
Hi Lea Ann, isn't this fun? And SO tasty! Thanks for the comment.
“Mmmm, love me some ice cream soda".... me too! I'm in love with this ice cream soda!
Hi Pamela, I bet we all scream for ice cream! :-) Thanks for the comment.
HAHA!! You say with booze or not. I say why would I ever skip the booze? :)
OK, in all honesty I just love shrubs; this sounds absolutely refreshing and delicious!
I always wondered why the treat were called the ice cream Sundae, now I know...so interesting. This is sure a great dessert and yes, let the fireworks begin!
Hope you are enjoying your week :)
I really enjoyed reading the history of this and the sundae. I always learn something when I visit your blog. I definitely want to check this beverage out.
Hi Barb, when you serve this to all the kids on your street you'll want to omit the booze. :-) Of course you and their parents will want it with! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Juliana, we're all for fireworks! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Laura, this is a wonderful soda -- the shrub syrup works so well in it! Thanks for the comment.
Wow, this is so pretty and sounds amazing. Love the background info too!
Love your little funnies - you must laugh all the time! That alone is a tremendous blessing. And I love this liquid dessert - and will try it this summer. We were just talking about ice cream and how I wish we had some! Hope you have a terrific weekend.
Hi Chris, it's a fun recipe! Exceptionally tasty. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Tricia, this really is worth trying. Shrub syrup is amazing stuff, and works so well in this. And yes, we do laugh all the time. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Huh. I did not know the difference between an ice cream float and an ice cream soda. The more you know!
Also, no question. I would like this with booze please and thank you ;)
I already love shrubs. And the idea of making one into an ice cream float is pure genius! I like how it's a little more grown-up and less cloying than your typical shake or float that way. So awesome!
Hi Cathleen, one with booze, coming up. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Carolyn, one of the neat things about making shrub syrup is you can adjust the sweetness somewhat. You need enough sugar to both help preserve the fruit and counter the vinegar, but you can dial it back a bit if you want less sweetness. Thanks for the comment.
Ice Scream? Too funny John! I, for one, love your jokes. Maybe because I always get them! And this shrub soda-well, it is way too cute. But not way to cute to drink! This might be all I have when it comes to fireworks on the 4th!
Hi Abbe, couldn't resist the ice scream. :-) Glad you like the jokes -- we always entertain ourselves with them. But we're little kids at heart. Which is why we like this ice cream soda. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love how this is served in a jar. I really must make some shrub syrup. This is a great party drink xx
I wouldn't mind to take it with a booze! I love shrubs. But the idea of making ice cream float is brilliant! So DELISH!
Hi Charlie, this would be a wonderful party drink! And yes, you need to make some shrub syrup. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Anu, shrub + ice cream = wonderful flavor! Really a good pairing. Thanks for the comment.
I had no idea about the differences between a float and a soda, so I learned something new today! Also, that ice cream soda looks delicious. Throwing a shrub syrup together with ice cream seems brilliant for summer.
Hi Shannon, shrub syrup and ice cream is a super combo -- you gotta try it! :-) Thanks for the comment.
I've never really experience the classic soda fountain and this drink makes me wish I had. GREG
Hi Greg, I do remember the classic soda fountain. Loads of fun. There are still a few around -- in fact a drug store about a 20 minute walk from my house had one until it closed about a year ago. :-( Thanks for the comment.
What a gorgeous summertime treat! Beautiful drink.
Hi Karen, this is a nice end to a summer meal. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I have not had a true ice cream soda before but this one looks like the perfect introduction. It's been pretty warm here with high humidity so an ice cream drink sounds like a wonderful way to cool down.
Ice cream soda/ ice cream float, this looks great either way. I can't remember the last time I had one of these, brings back lots of memories!
Hi Eva, this is one of those dishes that we don't have very often -- too many calories! -- but always enjoy it when we do. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Mary, we almost always end up calling a "soda" a float -- I don't think people make much of a distinction these days. And I have many happy memories of these, too! Thanks for the comment.
This looks deeeeeelicious! I won't be in the US for the holiday but I definitely miss the bbq and this delicious ice cream soda. :)
Hi Nami, it's really good! Too bad you'll miss the 4th, but it sounds like the trip you're on is wonderful! Thanks for the comment.
This looks so refreshing in this heat wave we're having!! Oh, and totally adding the booze ;)
Hi Ashley, the weather here has been beastly! SO hot. And this has been SO refreshing. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love the idea of using ginger beer! That reminds me, I think Moscow Mules will be on the Fourth menu here (with maybe a few floats thrown in for good measure).
Hi Debra, we've made plenty of Moscow Mules, but have never done them on the blog. Need to get to that one of these days. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love ginger beer too but for some reason it's hard to get in Canada. Every time I find a store that has it, they discontinue it.
Love raspberries so will be making this for July 1 - Canada Day. Looks like I get an extra long weekend of celebration with friends and family across the border. Our colours are red and white so this is perfect! Thanks, John :)
Hi Robyn, Happy Canada Day! This would be perfect. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Oh my this is so wonderful. I love everything in it, and I will try to make it alcohol free. Thanks John for sharing.
What a really pretty drink, John! Gosh, I can't remember the last time I had an ice cream soda. But you've inspired me! I'm really a root beer float, girl. And I'm going to have to take your suggestion of adding some Gosling's Black Seal rum to it. Sounds fabulous! Love the history of the ice cream soda, too. Those were the days! :)
Hi Amira, this is equally good with/without the alcohol. You'll love it! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Anne, root beer and dark rum work really well together! And those ice cream soda days really were fun, weren't they? Thanks for the comment.
Oh my gosh John, this one is calling my name. It's so gorgeous.
Hi Kim, isn't this pretty? Your sort of recipe! Thanks for the comment.
You had way too much fun writing this post :-) What a decadent dessert / drink! Looks so refreshing and delicious. Glasd to see shrub again so soon. Thanks for the recipe.
Hi Evelyne, yeah, we did have fun writing this post. As we usually do. :-) Thanks for the comment.
It's freezing cold here in Sydney, but that ice cream shrub soda looks so incredibly delicious that I'd risk the additional internal chill just to taste it! Love it. Heading to read more about Shrubs now!!
Hi Amanda, you can turn up the heat and make one of these. :-) Thanks for the comment.
John, this drink looks so refreshing and delicious! That photo is so stunning...I want to take a huge sip right now! Love the history about ice cream soda and the ice cream sundae! I've often wondered where the odd term "sundae" originated! Great post :)
Hi Marcelle, the history of the sundae is pretty interesting, isn't it? Thanks for the comment.
This is the perfect time of year to make your shrub syrup - berries are everywhere! I have a hubby who'd love this summer treat.
Hi Kristi, berries really are everywhere, aren't they? Love all the fruits we get in the summer -- SO nice. And you can make shrubs out of all of them! :-) Thanks for the comment.
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