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Summer Food: Playing the Float

Floats used to be kid stuff. But the tart, racy ones turning up -- in full Technicolor -- on New York menus are strictly adults-only.

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There's a lot to be said for the classic float: a scoop of vanilla ice cream in a glass of root beer, its delicious chemistry evoking ice-cream parlors and innocence, Main Street on the Fourth of July. And that's pretty much where the float stayed. Recently, however, chefs around the city have lifted the float from its Norman Rockwell setting and brought it into the new millennium, but with a difference. These new floats are colorful, sophisticated, and -- sacrilege! -- alcoholic. "These are grown-up floats," says Henry Meer, owner of the Cub Room, which created a Campari-and-grapefruit float topped with green-tea ice cream. "It's a great dessert without the heaviness of pastry or chocolate."

At Fifty Seven Fifty Seven, pastry chef Christophe Toury has imagined a whimsical armada of concoctions, featuring flavors far from the soda-fountain original. His champagne float is as exotic as a tropical island -- coconut ice cream and champagne, with a dash of orange, lime, and flame-red grenadine, making a miniature foaming volcano in a champagne glass. His Sour Apple Pucker float, based on a new Day-Glo-green flavored schnapps from De Kuyper and topped with apple sorbet, is an elaboration of one of his best-selling cocktails.

Ann-Michele Andrews, the pastry chef at JUdson Grill, devised a float that Norman Rockwell might have had an easier time getting his mind around: chocolate ice cream, chocolate syrup, and seltzer, fortified with a shot of Jack Daniel's.

"I worked in an ice-cream store for eight years while I was in school," says Dalia Jurgensen, the author of Quantum 56's rum-and-Coke float. "It reminds me of when we were younger." All the years have added is wit -- and a dash of something harder.

The Recipes
Each recipe serves one.

Sour Apple Pucker Float
FIFTY SEVEN FIFTY SEVEN
CHRISTOPHE TOURY

2 ounces De Kuyper Sour Apple Pucker

2 teaspoons lime juice

1 tablespoon simple syrup (recipe below)

2 small scoops apple sorbet (available at Ciao Bella, 27 East 92nd Street)

1/2 cup Perrier

Mix Sour Apple Pucker, lime juice, and simple syrup in a pitcher. Scoop sorbet into a large martini glass, add the Pucker mixture, and top with Perrier.

Champagne Float
FIFTY SEVEN FIFTY SEVEN
CHRISTOPHE TOURY

2 tablespoons orange juice

2 teaspoons lime juice

2 teaspoons simple syrup (recipe below)

2 small scoops coconut sorbet (available at Ciao Bella)

1 and 1/2 teaspoons grenadine

1/2 cup champagne

Mix juices and simple syrup in a pitcher. Scoop sorbet into a large martini glass, and add the grenadine. Pour the juice mixture over the sorbet, and top with champagne.

Pineapple-Rum Float
FIFTY SEVEN FIFTY SEVEN
CHRISTOPHE TOURY

2 ounces pineapple juice

1 and 1/2 ounces Malibu rum

1 tablespoon simple syrup

2 small scoops vanilla ice cream

3 ounces Perrier

Mix pineapple juice, rum, and syrup in a pitcher. Scoop vanilla ice cream into a large martini glass. Add the fruit juice mixture, and top with Perrier.


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