Classic Root Beer Float from Scratch

May 27, 2011
Author Notes

I love making soda. This takes a little longer than plopping a scoop of ice cream into a glass of soda, but it's worth it! And since you made the root beer all by yourself, don't feel bad about using store-bought vanilla ice cream.

The root beer is based on Jessica Prentice's "Full Moon Feast." —linzarella

  • Makes 4
  • Root Beer Float
  • 2 tablespoons dried sassafrass
  • 1 tablespoon dried licorice root
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • vanilla ice cream, for serving
  • Ginger Bug
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar, plus more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger, with skin, plus more as needed
In This Recipe
  1. First, make your ginger bug, which will serve as the starter culture for the root beer. Put 1 teaspoon grated ginger and 1 teaspoon sugar into 1 cup of water, stir, cover, and leave in a warm place. Add the same amount of ginger and sugar every day or two until the mixture becomes bubbly. This should take 3-7 days.
  2. When your ginger bug is ready, start making your soda. Put the sassafras and licorice in a pot with 1 quart water and bring to a boi. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave covered for a half hour.
  3. Pour maple syrup and sugar into a large glass bowl or 2-quart mason jar and strain the sassafras-licorice infusion over it. Stir to dissolve. Add the remaining quart of water and stir to combine.
  4. When the liquid has cooled to about 100 degrees, or when it feels warm, but not hot, add the ginger bug (This is the optimal temperature to introduce the living ginger bug into the soda). Cover loosely with a cloth. If using a glass bowl, make an "x" over the bowl with masking tape to prevent the cloth from falling in. Leave in a warm place for 2-4 days.
  5. Strain into glass bottles - they should be filled all the way to the top. Seal tightly and return to the warm spot for another 2-3 days. See my kombucha float recipe for more details about bottling methods. After bottling, transfer to the fridge. They're ready to drink when they're cold. Be careful when opening in case a lot of carbonation has built up.
  6. To make the float, plop a scoop or two of store-bought vanilla ice cream (or ginger ice cream!) into your root beer.

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