Root Beer Floats with Bourbon Caramel Sauce

When I was in elementary school, my favorite part of the day was the drive home from school. My mom hauled the three of us kids into the van, along with our heavy backpacks and books, and my siblings and I would eagerly try to guess what snack was waiting for us when we got home. From plates of freshly sliced pineapple to fresh fruit smoothies, to giant bowls of popcorn I crammed hurriedly into my mouth to make sure my siblings didn’t eat it all, to the occasional float, she provided some killer variety to the afternoon snack.

Ironically, as much as I loved root beer floats as a kid I don’t think I have had once since then. Until this recipe, of course. When turning beloved childhood recipes into modern favorites, it’s absolutely necessary to add some booze. Otherwise, what’s the point of even being an adult? Naturally, it followed to make a bourbon caramel sauce and trash up this float to turn it into the greatest dessert drink that has ever existed (not to be melodramatic, or anything).
Since it had been so long since I’d had one, I’d forgotten about the strong reaction between the root beer and the ice cream on contact. I mean, really strong. Foam EVERYWHERE. And with the whole ice cream melting while trying to take photographs thing that food bloggers know too well, let’s just say I enjoyed my fair share of floats that day. Waste not, my friends!

Root Beer Floats with Bourbon Caramel Sauce via @palettedining

With the strong contrast between the cold root beer and the creamy, icy vanilla ice cream, mixed with a little kick from the bourbon caramel sauce, you’ll have just as much fun making this float as you will eat it. Enjoy

Root Beer Floats with Bourbon Caramel Sauce

Author: PaletteDining
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 20 mins
Serves: serves 15


  • [i]Bourbon Caramel[/i]
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons bourbon
  • [i]Floats[/i]
  • root beer
  • vanilla ice cream
  • whipped cream (an aerosol can, like Cool-Whip)


  1. Place the brown sugar, heavy cream, butter, and salt in a small saucepan and turn the heat to medium. Whisk constantly until the caramel begins to thicken and bubble (about 5 minutes).
  2. Remove from heat and add the bourbon (the caramel will instantly bubble because of the alcohol, that’s okay!). Place back on medium heat and whisk until the sauce begins to bubble again. Remove from heat, pour in a bowl or jar, and refrigerate until cool. The sauce will thicken in the fridge.
  3. To assemble the floats, pour the root beer in a glass and fill 2/3 full. Add one scoop of vanilla ice cream, and top with whipped cream and caramel sauce. Serve.

*Recipe yield is for the caramel sauce, but you can make as many floats as you like (e.g. one or two) and save the sauce in the fridge for sundaes, pancakes, etc.

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