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