Father's Day

A Tribute to Woody (Homemade Ginger Ale Float)

May 31, 2011
5 Ratings
  • Serves 2
Author Notes

Vernors Ginger Ale is a Michigan icon ... sweet, gingery, fizzy. It's a golden ginger ale as opposed to a "dry" one and makes the claim of being the oldest surviving ginger ale in the country. Slogans have included "Detroit's Drink", "Deliciously Different" "Barrel Aged, Bold Taste, and "It's what we drink around here". I'm not sure if it's readily available all over the country, but if it is, try it. Served cold, it's refreshing, served hot, it's good for what ails you. Make a shake or float with it ... but if you can't find it, here's a recipe for the ginger syrup and the shake or float. Oh, by the way, "Woody" is the gnome that appears on the can or bottle. - inpatskitchen —inpatskitchen

Test Kitchen Notes

In any form, ice cream floats are a delightfully lazy route to a happy summer. Here, with one extra step, you get a kicky homemade ginger syrup, lifted by seltzer and bear-hugged by slow-melting vanilla ice cream. It's a fitting ode to a proud Michigan soda pop tradition, made with a handful of ingredients you probably have socked away in your kitchen -- your hot, sticky kitchen. Best go make yourself a float. - A&M —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • For the ginger syrup
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced peeled, fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • For the float or shake
  • 6 large scoops great quality vanilla ice cream
  • 1/2 cup of the ginger syrup
  • 3 cups sparkling seltzer water
  1. For the ginger syrup
  2. Combine all ingredients except the vanilla in a saucepan. bring to a boil and then simmer for about 15 minutes until reduced to one cup liquid.
  3. Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla and cool and strain.
  1. For the float or shake
  2. For a shake: place the ice cream, syrup and seltzer in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into 2 tall glasses and grab some straws.
  3. For a float: place three scoops of the ice cream in each of the 2 tall glasses. Mix the syrup with the seltzer and then pour half over each ice cream filled glass. This time grab the straws and a long spoon!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Stephanie
  • Misty Terrell Green
    Misty Terrell Green
  • frog
  • Lizthechef
  • Joanna Bober
    Joanna Bober

Recipe by: inpatskitchen

I think I get my love for food and cooking from my mom, who was an amazing cook. She would start baking and freezing a month before Christmas in order to host our huge open house on Christmas afternoon. I watched and I learned...to this day I try not to procrastinate when it comes to entertaining. My cooking style is pretty much all over the place, although I'm definitely partial to Greek and Italian cuisine. Oh yes, throw a little Cajun in there too!

127 Reviews

Catrina B. October 15, 2019
Quite delicious! My kids and I had floats for dessert and they said it was the best! The taste was well-balanced, and just gingery enough. If I was going to make it for “adult beverages”, I might take the ginger up a notch. Very tasty though, reminded me of my childhood, and it was awesome sharing it with my little foodies.
inpatskitchen October 16, 2019
Thank you!!
tommy G. September 4, 2014
Does anyone remember Vernor's ice cream bars? I used to buy them in the showroom of the bottling plant on Woodward Avenue back in the early '70s. They were available in a vending machine for ten cents and, to my knowledge, nowhere else. As I recall, the bar was Vernor's-flavored ice cream with a butterscotch coating. Delicious.
Stephanie April 19, 2014
I had a late dinner tonight so I decided to make this for a later night snack. It taste really good. I don't like things that are too sweet so this is good for me. I used 1/4 raw sugar instead of white sugar. Paired it with SoDelicious Frozen Coconut Milk and a few banana slices...yummy! Oh, I forget the seltzer water but I don't think it made a big difference.
inpatskitchen April 19, 2014
Stephanie..So happy you enjoyed your version...thanks so much!
Misty T. March 1, 2014
I have lived in Indiana my whole life & for some reason, we always had Vernor's Ginger Ale. Michigan relatives maybe. I love, love, love that stuff. Def. can still get it here.
inpatskitchen March 2, 2014
So glad that you can make the float anytime you want! And welcome to Food52!
frog January 12, 2014
Verner's is currently owned by Dr Pepper Snapple and the recipe has changed. It now has high fructose corn syrup and artificial ginger flavoring. reed's Ginger Beer would be closer, though not as sweet, to the original Verner's Ginger Ale.
Jim B. September 25, 2014
I like the Canada Dry Ginger Ale.
sboulton October 15, 2019
I agree it's not the same Vernors that I remember growing up in Detroit. But, I still drink it. In the summer, my mom would make us floats, and in the winter when we got sick she would make us a "Boston Cooler" which was warm milk with Vernors. It went down easy, but I have no idea why it's called a Boston Cooler.
susielou January 12, 2014
I grew up in Detroit and went to James Vernor Elementary School; every Christmas and Easter there were huge kegs of Vernors, and all kids were given a glass. The best tour ever was of the Vernor plant, and watching all the bottles go by. At the end of the tour we were given Vernor's ice cream floats. Wonderful!

By the way, another drink from childhood is the brown cow: chocolate ice cream and root beer.
inpatskitchen January 12, 2014
So happy that this brought back wonderful memories for you! I too, remember touring the Vernor's plant as a kid. And Vernors is in the shopping cart almost every week!
sboulton October 15, 2019
me too, every year. I went to MacDowell.

Lizthechef July 19, 2013
I remember this recipe very well. I'm a ginger ale freak and this rocks.
inpatskitchen July 19, 2013
Thanks Liz! I must agree...it does "rock"!!
Joanna B. June 17, 2013
I've tried SO many recipes for ginger ale. This is by far the BEST! It was quick and easy, and the end result was nothing short of delicious.
inpatskitchen June 18, 2013
Thanks so much Joanna! It really is easy and I'm so happy you enjoyed!
sofia J. May 21, 2013
Ginger ale from scratch?? Guess it's possible but I still stand by my favorite VERNERS!!!
inpatskitchen May 21, 2013
Oh me too sofia. But there are many who can't get Vernors where they live and this is a pretty good "clone"!
80jones July 22, 2012
This was delish on a hot summer day. I'm thinking the ginger syrup would make a good general purpose mixer.
inpatskitchen July 22, 2012
I'm sooo glad you enjoyed this and actually a while back the Food52 people had a cocktail party and used the syrup for Moscow Mules. Their recipe is at the end of the article here:
everblessed October 19, 2011
Just made the syrup tonight and my house smells heavenly. Can't wait to mix it tomorrow. Thank you for the recipe!!!
inpatskitchen November 4, 2011
Thank you so much everblessed...so sorry I didn't respond sooner, but I'm still not getting notifications or comments through e-mail. I hope you enjoyed!! ( I was just here to get my recipe too(LOL)
inpatskitchen November 4, 2011
Thank you so much everblessed...so sorry I didn't respond sooner, but I'm still not getting notifications or comments through e-mail. I hope you enjoyed!! ( I was just here to get my recipe too(LOL)
Sue D. July 16, 2011
Tried this recipe about a month ago and have been dreaming of making more ever since. This wonderful recipe is simple, refreshing and fantistically bright tasting. I can never again sip commercially available genger ale, this recipe ended that practice. My experience of making and enjoying this amazing beverage was a satisfying adventure!
inpatskitchen July 16, 2011
I'm so glad you enjoyed Sue D....it's really a hit at our house ( I'm into simple and easy!)
sboulton June 19, 2011
I'm from Detroit and remember countless trips to the Vernor's Plant on Woodward, with its gleaming copper kettles in the window. The canned stuff they sell now in California doesn't even resemble the original. It was the best, especially when you were sick and Mom made a "Boston Cooler" . Thanks for this, it brings back those wonderful flavors.
inpatskitchen June 20, 2011
Thank you sboulton! The new concoction isn't as "fizzy" as it once was, I know, but the flavor is still classic!
liamoran June 17, 2011
This was so amazing. I made it earlier in the week and will make the syrup for a non-alcolic option for my summer dinner party tomorrow! Love it. Good job and congratulations!
liamoran June 17, 2011
I meant "non-alcoholic". I got so excited about your ginger ale I couldn't type. :)
inpatskitchen June 18, 2011
Thank you so much liamoran!! It really is a great treat!
Oui, C. June 16, 2011
Congratulations! This looks so dang good, can't wait to try it with the kids....I'll be their hero with this recipe! - S
inpatskitchen June 16, 2011
Thank you so much "Super Dad!" They will love it!
TheWimpyVegetarian June 15, 2011
Congrats! Really happy for your win!!
inpatskitchen June 15, 2011
Thank you ChezSuzanne!
nicci June 15, 2011
Congratulations!! I LOVE Vernor's. They don't have it in Hawaii but they should!
inpatskitchen June 15, 2011
Thank you...at least now you can make something similar!
wssmom June 15, 2011
It's on for tonight in a tribute to your win! Congrats!
inpatskitchen June 15, 2011
Thanks wssmom...let me know
wssmom July 7, 2011
You know I was sooooo remiss in not letting you know how AWESOME it was! We did the float thing, and everyone raved.
inpatskitchen July 7, 2011
Oh Thank you wssmom...I'm so glad everyone enjoyed!
fiveandspice June 15, 2011
Congrats on a well deserved win! If I weren't on the road, I would be making one of these for myself tonight!
inpatskitchen June 15, 2011
Thanks fiveandspice! I might make one myself!
fiveandspice June 15, 2011
Oh you definitely should! Gotta celebrate!
gingerroot June 15, 2011
Cheers and congrats!
inpatskitchen June 15, 2011
Thank you so much gingerroot!!