Frozen Friday: Ice Cream Sodas Revisited

In 1984 President Ronald Reagan declared July National Ice Cream Month. In honor of the month, we’ll be celebrating this delicious food each week with Frozen Fridays, a series about Jews and ice cream.

Ice cream sodas, once a staple of pharmacies and soda fountains are sprouting up across the U.S., bringing back a lost art form and flavor palette. Given the plethora of soda fountains and pharmacies, ice cream aficionados like myself have decided it’s time to jump on the ice cream soda bandwagon. I’m doing it with a modern twist on an old classic: The Raspberry Lime Rickey Ice Cream Soda, which traditionally is made with seltzer water, raspberry syrup and a few squirts of fresh lime juice. (Don’t worry, we didn’t leave out the ice cream in our version!)

Seltzer runs deep in my family’s blood. My maternal grandfather, a Holocaust survivor, used to make and sell seltzer water from a pushcart in Latvia. Almost in parallel, across the globe, my paternal great-aunt, the first woman to graduate Massachusetts College of Pharmacy in 1939, owned and operated a drug store and soda fountain in Boston.

In this family-owned pharmacy and soda fountain, my father and his siblings enjoyed countless ice cream sodas. The options were delicious and cold classics including an orange freeze (vanilla ice cream in orange soda or orange sherbet in club soda), egg creams and root beer floats. My uncle even tells me that he worked as a “carbonics engineer” (a fancy title for soda jerk) which explains my father’s fond memories of guzzling ice cream sodas as a kid. Nothing, however, is as refreshing on a hot summer day as a raspberry lime rickey.

Legend has it that Colonel Joe Rickey invented the lime rickey in the 1880s after a bar tender at Shoomaker’s in Washington DC added a lime to the Colonel’s morning drink. A decade later it became a sensation when mixed with gin. To honor the raspberry lime rickey, a summer staple, bartenders in Washington, DC have declared July as National Rickey Month. So, I suppose it’s apropos that I’ve made a raspberry lime rickey ice cream soda for national ice cream month and national rickey month!

Though the raspberry lime rickey was never officially adopted as a “Jewish” drink, it’s principle ingredient — seltzer — is quintessentially Jewish. Originally called selterswasser in German, this refreshing carbonated beverage was translated to zeltzer vasser in Yiddish and ultimately, the English term seltzer was born. My favorite seltzer anecdote, thanks to the “Encyclopedia of Jewish Food,” is that in the 1930s seltzer became known as “Jewish champagne” or better yet, grepsvasser (belch water) in Yiddish!

In my search for the perfect raspberry lime rickey, I realized that I was actually exploring my own family history since soda and ice cream have been interwoven in my family for generations. So, bottom’s up. Here’s a great recipe for a raspberry lime rickey ice cream soda made with raspberry swirl ice cream. I promise it will knock your flip-flops off!

Raspberry Lime Rickey Ice Cream Soda

This recipe has two parts — the raspberry ice cream and the soda itself. If you prefer not to make the ice cream, you an supplement a store-bought raspberry swirl ice cream.

Raspberry Swirl Ice Cream

Adapted from David Lebovitz’s “A Perfect Scoop: Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, and Sweet Accompaniments”

Makes One Quart

1 cup whole milk
2 cups half-and-half
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 oz frozen or fresh raspberries (if frozen, let defrost slightly)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoons raspberry vodka

1) Whisk together the milk, half-and-half, ¾ cup sugar and vanilla. Let chill in the refrigerator until the sugar is completely dissolved.

2) While the base is cooling, pour the raspberries, 3 tablespoons sugar and vodka into a small bowl. Using a fork, crush the berries and mix well.

3) Pour the ice cream base into your ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions (approximately 20 minutes). When done, scoop a few spoonfuls of ice cream into a container, cover with the raspberry mixture, (do not stir!) and repeat until you’ve used up all the ice cream and approximately 2/3 of the raspberry sauce. Freeze the ice cream for atleast 2 hours before serving.

When you’re ready to eat it, you’ll notice that the ice cream is beautifully marbled with raspberry swirls, and is a perfect addition to your raspberry lime rickey!

Raspberry Lime Rickey

Adapted from a submission on Food 52

20 oz frozen raspberries, thawed
1/2 cup sugar
zest from 2 limes
juice from 2 limes
seltzer water
2-3 additional limes for the actual drink and garnish

1) Pour the raspberries, sugar, lime juice and lime zest into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Allow it to boil for 2-3 minutes, no longer as you don’t want it to turn into jam.

2) Strain the raspberry sauce through a fine mesh sieve to remove all the seeds.

3) Fill a tall glass half-way with ice cubes. Squeeze approximately half the lime into the glass. Spoon in 3-4 tablespoons of raspberry syrup and cover with seltzer water. Stir well. Scoop a generous heaping of the raspberry swirl ice cream on top, garnish with a thin slice of lime, and enjoy!

Frozen Friday: Ice Cream Sodas Revisited

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