How to Make the Ultimate July Fourth Dessert
Be the hit at your party with these reinvented ice-cream floats.
PHOTOS BY LEAH LIZARONDO
Who doesn’t love a root-beer float? And who isn’t transported to the idyllic summer days of our childhood when we enjoy one? Nothing can beat root-beer floats for that.
But. There is a whole world of ice-cream floats out there, and thank goodness we now are adults because we can experiment at will.
Here’s an idea: Take drink-of-the-moment shrub, add some fizz and pour it in a glass filled with scoops of ice cream. And if that isn’t interesting enough… top with some… Jello.
Drink with a straw and eat with a spoon.
For those who are not familiar, shrubs were a popular drink during the colonial era; they recently have been experiencing a resurgence in this modern cocktail era. The act of consuming shrubs also is known by its (arguably) less-romantic name: drinking vinegar. It is a vinegar-based syrup made with fruit and originally was a method used to preserve and use fruit past its prime.
Shrubs are wonderful because the flavor straddles tart and sweet — and on hot summer days, mixed with some very cold seltzer, it is the most refreshing drink. Not too cloying. Just right.
Though the shrub has humble utilitarian origins, once you taste it, you’ll want to make it, overripe fruit on hand or not.
It’s fairly easy to make shrubs — you just need fruit, vinegar and sugar. Berries and stone fruit are my favorites.
There are a few methods out there to make shrubs at home. Start with a 1:1:1 ratio and then adjust your sugar (dial it down) to desired sweet-tart level.
A slow but easy method is macerating the fruit in the sugar — that is, mixing the two together — and letting the mixture stand overnight so the sugar draws out the natural juice from the fruit. Strain this with a cheesecloth over a container, pressing out as much juice from the fruit as possible. Add the vinegar and mix well.
Using the hot method is a little faster, but you lose a little of the brightness of the fruit’s flavor. For this process, place vinegar and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Add the fruit and simmer to draw out the fruit juices. Cool and then strain over a container with a cheesecloth.
Just want to get your hands on some shrubs? You’re in luck because Whole Foods started carrying my favorite go-to for when I don’t have time to make some (or any overripe fruit!): Tait Farm Foods, displayed in special racks all over the store labeled — conveniently? — “WFM Foodie.” You can’t miss the Tait Farm bottles. (The whole rack was interesting actually, a great way to get new ideas!)
Most of the time, I just take the shrub and mix it with seltzer, and aside from homemade iced teas, that’s my go-to summer drink. And shrubs make great cocktail bases!
Shrub ice-cream floats? Easy. See the below recipe for my favorite combination: Raspberry. Mint. But feel free to use other shrub-ice cream combos. My other favorites are strawberry shrub with strawberry ice cream (of course!), peach-ginger shrub with vanilla ice cream and cherry shrub with chocolate ice cream.
The ratio is based on Tait Farm Foods’ shrubs (you may need to adjust if your syrup is homemade or if you're using other brands)
- 1 ounce shrub syrup
- 6 ounces very cold seltzer
- 1 scoop mint-chip ice cream (I like So Delicious almond-milk mint-chip ice cream)
- About 2 mint leaves crushed (I love chocolate mint, but you can use any mint)
- ¼ cup cubed Jello — optional but oh so encouraged (if you are vegan, there are vegan options available)
- Mix shrub and seltzer.
- Crush mint into another glass.
- Top with ice cream.
- Pour shrub mixture into glass with ice cream.
- Watch the satisfying foam.
- Top with Jello.
- Eat with a spoon and drink with a straw.