You don't need a recipe for a Root Beer Float. Neither do we. A simple equation will do:
A frosty glass of ice cold root beer + a heaping scoop of vanilla ice cream = Sweet Heaven.
What you might appreciate, however, is an answer to the nagging question that's been looming in the back of your mind all these years. What is the history of the root beer float?
Here you go:
Let's start with the root beer. This delightful beverage has been around since the 1700s when American farmers would brew a quasi-alcoholic drink using the sassafras root. Many years later, a pharmacist named Charles Hires developed a non-alcoholic version and introduced it to the public at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition. It was a huge hit and within a few years, 'HIRES' bottled root beer was in stores across the country - and still is today.
Interesting, you say. But what about the ice cream? After all, a root beer float without the ice cream is...just root beer. The story goes that in 1893, Colorado gold mine owner, Frank Wisner, who also owned a local bar, came up with the idea while observing Cow Mountain, where his operation was located. Against the night sky, the snow capped mountain looked to Wisner like a scoop of ice cream atop a glass of root beer. He created and served this new beverage to his patrons, calling it a Black Cow. It got rave reviews.
Today, this delectable mix of icy cold root beer and creamy vanilla ice cream is an American classic - and a perfect summertime treat.