watermelon soda floats

still stuck on summer ::::

As always in my Northern Californian living, we drag the summer into fall without a problem. As such, there is room to extend the summer cuisine despite the earlier sunsets and early morning jackets signaling the cusp of autumn. Watermelon has made it into the kitchen again. We slurp up cubed watermelon by the bowlful in this house. It’s not surprising that I venture to another vehicle — a fancy, pretty drink.

These watermelon soda floats made their way into a dinner with our friends Y&Y and their daughter Li-Li. It’s very simple, very impressive, and kid- and adult-pleasing. Not that I didn’t want another round of watermelon granita like I made last year. We slurped down all of the floats at dinner, then I made more the next day to take photos. The patience and freezer space needed to make the granita wasn’t happening this round of our watermelon love.

The hint of lime in the watermelon is perfect, playing off the vanilla in the ice cream. Don’t forget that step — it really makes the whole drink come together. Li-Li and Peach were giggling so much throughout our dinner and dessert I don’t have a definite thumbs-up from them. Extrapolating on their usual likes however, I can assume that a bright pink drink topped with ice cream is probably better than most food they eat on a regular basis.

Enjoy your wisps of summer. The chill is approaching (even though I have little to complain about with this Nor Cal “chill” coming from Midwestern snot-freezing winters)!

watermelon soda floats
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream
  • 1½ tablespoons lime zest
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice, divided
  • almost 10 cups watermelon = about 1½ cups balled with melonballer and 8 cups cubed*
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup seltzer water (I felt this wasn't enough to make the drink fizzy enough, so I added more to each glass before serving. Be safe and have at least a liter on hand.)
  1. In a small saucepan, mix ⅓ cup sugar and ⅓ cup water, bring to boil briefly to dissolve sugar, and remove from heat. Cool completely and chill in fridge. (This can be made up to a week in advance.)
  2. Soften ice cream slightly and mix in lime zest and 1 tablespoon of lime juice. Store in freezer until ready to use.
  3. Chill melonballed watermelon pieces.
  4. In blender or food processor, blend cubed watermelon until smooth.
  5. Pour puree through fine sieve, then add simple syrup, remaining lime juice, and a pinch of salt. Chill until ready to use.
  6. Mix seltzer (see notes in ingredient list) and watermelon mixture.
  7. Line up 6 to 8 glasses, divide melon balls between them, and pour over watermelon-seltzer mix (and you may want to add a little more seltzer), leaving some room at the top.
  8. Top each glass with ice cream-lime mix. Serve with a long spoon and straw. Another scratch of lime zest gives a nice touch.
  9. Prep time is mostly chilling time. If you already have cold ingredients, it takes less than an hour to prep.
* Seedless watermelon is a little easier to handle, but you need to strain the puree to catch any seeds. Like I mentioned in my watermelon granita recipe post last year, straining is key. The white, vestigial seeds give a chewy bite -- not something I want with watermelon.


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