A Brown Cow float? Stunning!

When I was younger, my parents used to take me to this amazing little diner that was a few towns north of my house. Their parking lot was filled with vintage cars in an array of finishes, and the interior was lined with classic arcade games like Galaga or Ms. Pac-Man. It was always a treat because it was a little too far for us to dine regularly. Without fail, my sister and I would order root beer floats. And these weren’t regular floats. They were full beer steins of soda, and the ice cream scoop was probably the size of a small melon. It was a second sugary meal on top of the burgers or hot dogs we ordered. It was good, so good. Food Network even gave them a little feature. I haven’t had a root beer float in a while, but I realized one day—while waiting for a JJ’s Place quesadilla—that all the necessary ingredients were there. So I made several floats and got a stomach ache. Worth it.

Note: Root Beer Floats are not exclusive to JJ’s Place. John Jay Dining Hall has a soft-serve machine as well as hard ice cream.


  • Drink Fountain Root Beer. 
  • Vanilla Ice Cream. I use the milkshake machine in JJ’s Place. You could probably use the frozen yogurt in JJ’s Place. For John Jay root beer floats, use the vanilla soft serve machine—when available—or vanilla hard serve ice cream.


  1. Add Vanilla Ice Cream to Cup. Personally, I add the ice cream first because adding it after the root beer might make a mess as it splashes in. 
  2. Add Root Beer. Get any flavoring you want!
  3. Toppings? While the root beer float is perfect, if you’re feeling fancy you could add some of the ice cream toppings from the ice cream station like marshmallows or chocolate syrup.
  4. Enjoy!

Root Beer Float via Flickr/Sharon Drummond

All other photos via author