Grown up floats with vodka coolers and gelato

A perfect summertime drink and dessert in one!

My two favourite flavours of floats when I was a kid were orange soda with vanilla ice cream and root beer with chocolate. I know the latter combo might sound a little weird, but trust me – it is delicious. I don’t drink pop (as many Maritimers call it – aka soda, soft drinks or soda pop) anymore, but I was thinking about how much I loved those floats and I had to start playing around with a few ideas.

Here’s the best part: these are the easiest drinks ever to prepare. All you need to do is grab your favourite flavour of gelato (or ice cream) and scoop it into tall glasses. Pour the vodka cooler over top and add a sprig of mint to garnish.

Fruit-flavoured, vodka based coolers are ideal – I like Blackfly’s Sour Grape and Sour Raspberry in particular because it’s not too sweet; it was delicious paired with the homemade lemon-mint gelato recipe below. There are loads of different flavours in the Blackfly cooler line so I plan to do some serious experimenting this summer.



  • 3/4 cup (185 mL) milk
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 3/4 cup (185 mL) sugar
  • 4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) grated lemon zest (about 2 lemons)
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) heavy whipping cream


  • In a microwave safe bowl or glass measure, heat milk until just barely steaming. Add mint leaves and let sit, covered, to infuse flavour for 15 minutes.
  • Strain mixture into a medium-sized heavy duty pot, discarding mint leaves. Over medium heat, gently warm until the milk reaches 175F then add sugar and stir until dissolved.
  • While milk is heating, separate eggs and put the yolks in a small bowl. Reserve the whites for another purpose such as meringues or Pavlova.
  • Whisk a small amount of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks then transfer the yolk and milk mixture back to the saucepan, whisking constantly. Cook over low heat until mixture is just thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon and a thermometer reads at least 160F, stirring constantly and making sure it does not come to a boil.
  • Remove from heat and if mixture looks a bit lumpy, strain through a fine-meshed sieve before proceeding to the next step.
  • Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice and whipping cream. Place in a bowl and press a piece of plastic wrap onto surface of custard to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate several hours or overnight until mixture is thoroughly chilled.
  • Fill cylinder of ice cream freezer two-thirds full; freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions. Transfer gelato to freezer containers (pack to within 1/2 inch of the top). Freeze 2 – 4 hours or until firm.
  • Note: if you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can also pour the chilled custard into ice cube trays and freeze until firm.

Yield: 1 quart.

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

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