Holy shmoly, Batman! Did you know that you can actually make root beer at home? On your on stove? Seriously. It's not only possible, it's fantastic! Now, it's not as dark brown as the bottled stuff, because this drink-of-the-gods does not have caramel color in it, just amazing herbal and spice things. You'll have to get the sassafras and sarsaparilla bark off of Amazon, but otherwise, all of this stuff is at your local grocery. And honestly? This is even more fantastic than the best bottled stuff. Fight back against those hot summer days with something refreshingly delicious.
Elixir (Root Beer) Floats
Adapted from Courtney McBroom in Food and Wine magazine, October 2015
2 cups water
1¾ cups granulated sugar
Three 2-inch pieces of orange peel
One 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced
1 tablespoon sassafras
1 tablespoon sarsaparilla
½ cinnamon stick (about a 1½-inch-long piece)
1 star anise
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2½ cups cold sparkling water
1 pint vanilla ice cream
Using a 1-tablespoon scoop, scoop 30 ice cream balls onto wax-paper-lined plates and freeze until very firm.
For each drink, pour ¼ cup of the elixir syrup into a chilled glass. Add three ice cream balls, top with ¼ cup of sparkling water, and serve.
Makes 8 to 10 drinks