Although June had ended on a sweet note with National Ice Cream Soda Day, my favorite type of ice cream soda is right today: that’s right, it’s National Root Beer Float Day! Root beer floats are just ice cream sodas using root beer and (typically) vanilla ice cream, but the mellow creaminess of the vanilla blends so well with the bite of root beer, making a perfectly complementary ice cream soda. You can use any flavor of ice cream in a root beer float, though soda shoppe purists think that a black cow can only be made from vanilla; in contrast, a chocolate root beer float is a “chocolate cow”. (But for my money, I’m with the purists on this one. It’s got to be vanilla ice cream or bust!)

You can get a root beer float most anywhere in the city that will also serve ice cream sodas, but for a really delicious, peaceful treat, go to the Lower East Side, where the tiny cafe of 88 Orchard will give you a helping hand. They use Boylans brand root beer, which has a traditional root beer flavor–not sticky sweet like Barq’s or A&W–that makes for a great foil to the vanilla ice cream. Sip this drink calmly while people watching through the neighborhood, and add something to your order that’ll hit the spot, like a green tea cookie, and all will be well.

88 Orchard
88 Orchard St (between Broome St & Grand St)

Some reviews from

“I had the root beer float and an omelet with cheese. Donna had the turkey pesto brie sandwich. She tasted mine, and I tasted hers, and everything was just right. The root beer float was vanilla ice cream and Boylans Root Beer. I loved it. I almost finished it before our sandwiches came.”–Jonathan M.

“That neighborhood should consider itself lucky. The attention to detail in that simple root beer float extends to everything the place prepares. The coffee ice cubes others have mentioned are, frankly, brilliant. The two-level vibe switchup is also wonderful, one that more cafes would do well to imitate.”–Lawrence C.


Make sure you check out the updated NYC Food Holidays Map to find this most recent holiday!