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A Grown-up Twist on the Root Beer Float

At my last big dinner party, I served 2 dozen friends the simplest dessert I've ever made. Nothing more than a scoop of top-shelf vanilla ice cream doused with spicy ginger ale, the 2-ingredient concoction had guests swooning all night long. "I don't even like ginger ale, but this is amazing," gushed one, while another has since decided to serve it at her wedding. Do I sound annoyingly self-congratulatory? Well, guilty as charged. It really was that good.

Known as a Boston Cooler, the drink has been a local favorite in Detroit (home of Vernors ginger ale) for decades, where it was supposedly invented on Boston Boulevard. The key to success is using a really robust, complex ginger ale to play off the creamy vanilla — Vernors is obviously delicious, as is Buffalo Rock, or try a Jamaican-style ginger beer (available at,, or at well-stocked supermarkets). Cool and creamy, it's also got a mouth-tingling bite that says, "This float is for big kids. Now go pour another."