Root beer is one of the most difficult soft drinks to use in cocktails; its high sweetness and assertive flavors make it tough to balance. Pamela Wiznitzer of Seamstress in New York rose to the challenge, combining some of her favorite ingredients for a “root beer float on crack,” as she puts it.
Root beer cocktails typically feature bourbon or rum, but here Wiznitzer relies on the crisp clarity of gin and the bitter herbaceousness of Cynar (an artichoke-based amaro) to balance the soda. Lemon adds a brightness, with a rich body supplied by both heavy cream and egg white (or aquafaba, if you prefer). Vanilla syrup works here, even though root beer is already sweet; it helps to bring out the flavors of the root beer and add a pleasant ice-cream-y quality.
Add half of the root beer to a tall glass and set aside. Meanwhile, add the remaining ingredients (except the rest of the root beer) to a shaker. Vigorously dry shake first without ice, and then again with ice added. Double-strain through a fine mesh strainer into the prepared glass. Don’t add any ice.
Let it settle for about thirty seconds, and then top with the remaining root beer, allowing the foam to puff up over the edge of the glass. Dust the foam with freshly-grated nutmeg, and serve with a straw.
- Wiz Fizz recipe at PUNCH