Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Homemade Root Beer Floats

Homemade Root Beer Float
Dorcas Annette Walker

Even though summer doesn’t officially begin until June, I’ve always considered the Memorial Day weekend as the kickoff for summertime. School is usually out or almost finished and as any mother will tell you summer begins when the school year ends no matter what the calendar says. Here in the South on the mountain Memorial Day weekend means grave decorations and family reunions. I love seeing hillside cemeteries covered in floral arrangements. It always brings back memories of my past. I called my daughter and asked her what she remembered most about her grandmother. To my surprise not only did Dawn remember my mother, but also my grandmother on a rare visit to her house one summer when she was a little girl. Dawn enchanted all my Yankee relatives with her southern accent. I remember Dawn asking me one evening when I tucked her into bed why they all talked so funny. Her best memory was of my grandmother, Dawn’s great grandmother, making Homemade Root Beer Floats. Then my mind when down memory lane of when I was a girl having root beer floats (sometimes my grandmother used cream soda) at my grandmother’s house on a hot summer day listening to the adults talk about when my mother was a small girl and how they made homemade root beer. They would mix up a batch of root beer, put it in bottles with corks, and place the bottles up on the tin roof. When the corks begin to pop and the liquid fizzed they knew the root beer was ready to drink. This Memorial weekend I’m going to make sure that my grandchildren (the fifth generation) have Homemade Root Beer Floats to keep our family tradition going.

Root beer is a carbonated sweet beverage made primarily from the sassafras root or bark. Today homemade root beer is usually made from a concentrate. Charles Hires, a Philadelphian pharmacist, was the first to introduce root beer to the public in 1876 that became an instant hit. By 1893 his family began manufacturing and distributing bottled root beer. A & W, the number one selling Root Beer Company in the world, founded by Roy Allen, began marketing root beer in 1919. Root beer floats is also called “black” or “brown cow” in some areas substituting chocolate ice cream for vanilla or cola instead of root beer. Although there is no congressional record or presidential proclamations, August 6th is celebrated by many as National Root Beer Float Day. I discovered recipes for root beer cake, root beer cupcakes, liqueurs, etc.

Nothing hits the spot more on a hot summer day than a Homemade Root Beer Float. Not only is making your own floats more cost effective, but you can create your own family recipe by experimenting with different flavors of ice cream and soda. You can add toppings of whipped cream, maraschino cherries, or candy sprinkles for decoration if desired. Instead of stopping at the nearest ice cream parlor for cold treats, start your own family tradition at home or at a family reunion with Homemade Root Beer Floats.

Homemade Root Beer Float

vanilla ice cream
root beer soda

Place a couple scoops of ice cream in a tall glass and pour in the root beer until it foams up to the top of the glass. Serve with a straw or spoon!

Weekly tip: To frost a glass to keep your beverage cold longer this summer simply place the glass in the freezer. For a complete coating first rinse the glass inside and out in cold water and then place in the freezer. Caution: Don’t freeze beverages in a glass as it will break. Also be careful when handling a frosted glass as it is more slippery!

Dorcas Annette Walker is a published author, columnist, speaker, freelance magazine writer, and photographer from Jamestown, Tennessee. Contact her at: For more recipes check out her Creative Tennessee Mountain Cookin blog at:

No comments: