Go with an old standby like the black cow (chocolate syrup, root beer and vanilla ice cream). Or jazz things up with a splash of vodka, bourbon or liqueur. Mix and match different ice cream flavors. For syrups, go beyond chocolate and try caramel or maple syrup.
Don't get confused by the terms "soda" and "float." They're often used interchangeably. Traditionally, sodas contain syrups and cream, while with a float the ice cream "floats" on top of the soda water.
Here's our step-by-step guide for making the perfect ice cream soda.
1. For each soda you'll need a tall glass (16 to 20 ounces), a straw, a long spoon, an ice cream scoop, 3 tablespoons syrup, 1 to 2 tablespoons half-and-half, soda water, ice cream and whipped cream.
2. Chill the glass in the freezer. This will help keep your soda ingredients cold.
3. Make the soda. Pour the syrup into the bottom of the glass. Add the half-and-half, and blend the syrup and cream together well. Add the soda water three-quarters of the way up the glass. (Don't fill it all the way or it will overflow.)
4. Add 2 to 3 scoops ice cream. Stir all the ingredients. Top your soda with whipped cream, and garnish it with a maraschino cherry, mini marshmallows or sprinkles.
5. Serve your soda with a straw and a long-handled spoon.
Now that you're ready to make a perfect ice cream soda, here's a recipe for Chocolate and Raspberry Ice Cream Sodas from Ina Garten.