A Snowball in Hell

The root beer float is unique among nonalcoholic masterpieces—decadent yet refreshing, simply constructed yet layered and dynamic. Many have perished trying to turn it into an adventurous alcohol beverage. But what are your options? Rum is boring and whiskey wrecks it. Just about any pure distilled spirit suffers from trying to capitulate the root beer’s bold, spicy personality. In short, “correcting” a root beer float is a tough proposition. So rather than submit to the root beer’s sweet assertiveness, go on the offensive. Bitters, balanced in their own right, blend with root beers effortlessly. The result is as delicious as it is unlikely.
Serves 1 (you)


  • 1 teaspoon confectioners’ sugar 
  • 6 ounces root beer 
  • 1 small bottle Boonekamp bitters (Underberg, Kuemmerling, or other) 
  • 4 dashes mole bitters 
  • 4 drops spicy bitters
  • 1 scoop vanilla ice cream Freeze a large snifter for about 15 minutes

Hold the glass by its stem and sift the confectioners’ sugar all over the top half of the outside of the glass. Pour the root beer, bitters, and tincture into the frosted snifter. 
Add the ice cream and stir once or twice. Serve with a straw. 

    Recipe from Mark Bitterman's Field Guide to Bitter's and Amari


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