The Best Root Beer Float Recipe

The Best Root Beer Float RecipeMy grandfather made the best Root Beer Float ever.

It wasn’t the delicious vanilla and coffee ice cream, or the A&W Root Beer, that made it the best.  (The three key, and only ingredients.)

It was the best because of how he took making this treat so seriously.  Making a Root Beer Float was a tradition for my grandfather.  It was a ceremony.  And it was the highlight of sleeping over at my grandparents house.

Valentina and Grandpa

Me and my grandfather in 1971, a good few years before I was served my first Root Beer Float.

I’d stand beside him as he make them right next to the refrigerator on the kitchen counter. I didn’t help.  Nobody did, as this was his gig completely.  I absolutely loved watching him execute his masterpiece.

The glasses were chilled in the freezer before they were filled.  A tall silver spoon was used for intentional and quite frantic stirring/mashing of the ice cream with the root beer.  This was not just mixing, this was truly intense — his whole body shook as he did this.  Though this was very exciting, to be honest, when this part was over, it was sort of a relief.

After the floats were completely assembled, my grandfather would put them on a pretty round tray, along with napkins, spoons, flex straws, and containers of any leftover ice cream for seconds.

I’d follow him as he’d walk through the living room and down the hall with the tray.  It always shook shook slightly, and made noises that would make me nervous something might spill.  Nothing ever did, though, as he’d always make it safely to the sitting area in my grandparents’ bedroom.  There, on one of the great big chairs with a cute wooden foot stool, I’d have my Root Beer Float while we’d watch TV.  My grandmother would always have one too, and sit in the chair beside me.The Best Root Beer Float RecipeAnd what really made my grandfather’s Root Beer Float the best?  Well, it was made with lots of love, of course.  He’d make them for all of the grand kids, and whether it was me, my brother or any of my three cousins, I believe no step was ever left out.  It was a ritual, after all.

It was incredibly delicious, but that wasn’t at all what made it the best.  I would love to be with my grandfather today, watching him make a Root Beer Float — or not.  

The Best Root Beer Float Recipe
Prep time
Total time
Ingredient measurements will vary, depending on the size of your glass.
Serves: Serves 1
  • 2 scoops vanilla bean ice cream
  • 1 scoop coffee ice cream
  • about 2 ounces root beer (my grandfather only used A&W)
  1. Place a tall glass in the freezer for about 5 minutes.
  2. Remove the glass and add 1 scoop of vanilla ice cream, and pour about half of the root beer over it.
  3. With a tall spoon, mash and stir until the ice cream is blended with the root beer.
  4. Add the scoop of coffee ice cream, followed by the second scoop of vanilla, and then pour the remaining root beer over it.
  5. Serve immediately with a straw and tall spoon.
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  1. Rosalia levy says

    What a sweet memory ,Valentina.
    Thank you for sharing with us .
    Can’t wait to make it.

  2. Catherine says

    A lovely memory of your grandfather, thank you so much for sharing and thank you so much for sharing a picture of you and your grandfather. So precious ! I am looking foreword to making this Root Beer Float soon.

  3. joan dunsmuir says

    Reminded me of my parents making them – they were called “brown cows” and they had plastic straws that had a tiny spoon at the bottom of the straw – so you could scoop and sip. Yummy!!! thank you for reminding me – might just have to have one. xxx

    • valentina says

      Thanks, Joan. It’s those little things I love remembering — like your plastic straw with the tiny spoon. Hope you have one soon. So tasty, too!

  4. Cal Darrow says

    Valentina: Wonderful story and memories of grandfather Harry. The photo is priceless….it’s been so long since I’ve seen a photo of him at that age. The root beer float sounds good, too.
    I’m still making variations of your delicious melon salad.
    Best regards to you and yours.
    Love ‘n’ kisses,
    Cal Darrow

    • valentina says

      Awww Cal, thank you! So cool that you knew him when. 😀 I LOVE that you’re still making versions of the salad! xoxo

  5. Bob Sunness says

    Valentina: Sure brings back memories and a desire for a root beer float with coffee ice cream predominating. I wasn’t the beneficiary of one of Dr. Kenney’s concoctions but was of his expertise in other areas.
    Love to you!


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