The Root Beer Hover

“Enis,” my Sous-Chef de Cuisine, Merrill, began the other day while we were deciding how many black truffles we could pack into a Rock Cornish hen, “I’ll bet you can’t find a way to improve upon the root beer float.”

Now this was a fair assertion as I’d previously challenged Merrill to innovate with the classic American hot dog—in fact, my staff tends to fill down-time with cook-offs or brainstorming sessions rather than the usual debauchery. Merrill’s hot dog solution had exhibited frank genius, so I took her challenge quite seriously and went to work. Ultimately, it was voted that my creation had to be disqualified for its name change, but the Root Beer Hover was otherwise well-received and continues to be a favorite on our kids’ menu.

A scoop of ice cream in a cone, covered with root beer

In concept, it’s quite simple really: get rid of the tumbler and you get rid of the humiliation of stickying your nose as you lick the last smears of root beer ice crystal laden cream from the sides of the glass. The execution is also simple, but must be performed swiftly.

Start with an organic, flat-bottomed waffle cone (you can prepare this in a sugar cone, but you’ll need a partner or fancy equipment to hold it). Place the non-conical cone on a steady surface. Have your ice cream and root beer nearby.

Five flat-bottomed ice cream cones on a table with a pint of vanilla ice cream in the background

Slowly pour a quality root beer into the cone until the liquid just reaches the fill line just below the cone’s edge.

Pouring a bottle of root beer into a flat-bottomed ice cream cone

The root beer should foam up and slightly over the cone. Allow it to settle for about 3 minutes.

Root beer foaming over the rim of a flat-bottomed ice cream cone

Once the root beer has settled, top off the cone with a scoop of ice cream. The ice cream should be formed such that the cone keeps it hovering above the root beer inside (you can allow the ice cream to touch the root beer foam).

A scoop of vanilla ice cream on a fork, being lowered onto an ice cream cone filled with root beer

Allow the ice cream to rest for two minutes.

A scoop of vanilla ice cream on an ice cream cone filled with root beer; root beer is leaking out the bottom of the cone and has formed a puddle

Immediately after the ice cream has rested, wipe down the cone and serve.

Fun to eat, the Root Beer Hover behaves like a ball-point pen. As you lick it, tilt the cone slightly to allow the root beer to wet the ice cream. Your licking should rotate the ice cream, bringing frozen root beer up to the top. If you’re not seeing the frozen root beer, tip more and lick harder. Eventually the ball of ice cream will shrink such that it drops down into the cone. At this point, you should nibble the cone down and continue the ball-point licking process. Repeat until finished.

Kids love this. Especially ones on their way for a day visit to a mother-in-law with shag carpet.

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