This lavender earl gray blackberry ice cream float is my summer drink mascot. For starters, there’s ice cream involved (no brainer) and, even more importantly, it was inspired by the mocktail (or faux-tail?) bar that Sherrie set out for the #bossbabefestMSP retreat last month – complete with bitter black tea, infused simple syrups, fruity shrubs, and an unending supply of La Croix to make it sparkle. I’ll be sipping my float variation of the fruity bitter black tea soda for the rest of summer to incite perpetual déja vu of the most epic Minnesota weekend.
Each sip transports me back –
The setting: A gorgeous 3,700 square foot house on one of St. Paul’s many lakes,
The scene: For a few short days that would carry on even after we parted ways, Amanda and Sherrie brought together a sisterhood of like-minded food lovers and infused it with all the feels. We shared mocktails, cocktails, flower crowns, allofthedeliciousfood, and tricks of the trade. (Recipe highlights: pineapple sage shrub, strawberry French 75, beet deviled eggs, & salty date caramel scotcharoos). These two worked tirelessly for months to create the most relaxing, rejuvenating, respectful, productive, and love-filled weekend.
Over the course of the weekend, we took advantage of our at-home meals to bust out our cameras. We styled and photographed smoothie bowls, grain bowls, & hummus bowls, during which we got to observe the way each person approaches designing the food, choosing props, and finding the light. After shooting, everyone took the same raw image and shared their editing process in their own unique style. We then opened each person’s image side by side and, as a group, more or less successfully matched photo to person.
As someone who is always second guessing my photography and editing (living a constant battle of asking my husband, “does this look right? Or does this look more right? But what if I did this?”), this exercise was so powerful for me. Each image was so distinct and I honestly loved every variation, which goes to show: there certainly is more than one way to do things and each of these women comes from a distinct and beautiful point of view.
From this photography collaboration to our late-night pow-wows about traditionally taboo blogger business topics, this tribe of boss babes taught me so much in such a short time.
Fun fact #1: On my first night away from the baby, Alanna and I may or may not have stayed up until 4am like little girls at summer camp playing our own rendition of MASH: blog MASH, in which Alanna was fated to have a blog named Prairie Dinette, gaining fame for her flavorless water panna cotta recipe (YUM).
The weekend culminated in a farm to table multi-course meal hosted by La Croix with an in-home private chef that lasted hours after the plates had been cleared as conversation flowed in a way can really only be described as a giant group hug that you never want to end.
I’d take that 97 degree humid heat wave any day if it meant hanging with these boss babes just one more time. I’ll bring the ice cream floats, ladies!
[Special thanks to our official sponsor, Vital Proteins, who made #bossbabefestMSP possible, and to all the other sponsors that made the weekend extra special: Bob’s Red Mill, General Mills, NOW Foods, Rodelle, and Udi’s Gluten Free, and Vital Farms.]
Feeling nostalgic almost as soon as we got home, Alanna and I planned this float fest in honor of #DRINKTHESUMMER to riff on Sherrie’s fruit & bitter tea elixir spread, adding ice cream because: duh (we went over this already).
I puréed plump blackberries with bitter concentrated tea and an herbal lavender-infused simple syrup, and mixed it with sparkling water for a summer soda to pour atop scoops of my ultra-creamy coconut-based vegan vanilla bean ice cream. Lavender enhances the earl gray notes, helping them both stand up against the tart blackberries. Without both, the flavors get muddled, but together, you can easily pick out the floral, bitter tea, sweet fruit, and creamy coconut notes in each sip.
For the float party, Alanna blended red rooibos tea with fresh peaches and vanilla beans for a syrup that’s worthy of opening up a summer soda shoppe.
Fun Fact #2: We used up 1.5 quarts of homemade ice cream making approx 8,294 floats to photograph and in the process they all melted before we could drink them all (this was just a two person float party!). So, naturally, I froze them into popsicles. I now have float popsicles in my freezer. Come over.
For more float goodness to bring to the party, check out our trio of floats from last summer!
These lavender earl gray blackberry ice cream floats are a symbol of my hot summer days at home with a new baby. A strong dose of caffeine to get me through the day, lavender for a splash of refined rebellion, and bright berry tartness blended into the bitter herbal fruit syrup that’s fizzed up with soda and playfully poured over vanilla bean ice cream.
(Related note: when can I introduce ice cream floats to the baby?).
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- ¾ cups sugar
- ½ cup water
- 1 tablespoon culinary dried lavender*
- 1½ cups boiling water
- 5 earl gray tea bags (or 2½ tablespoons loose earl gray tea)
- 2 cups blackberries
- Juice of half a lemon
- 3 cups sparkling water
- 1½ pints vegan vanilla bean ice cream (or your favorite vanilla ice cream)
- Prepare the simple syrup. Head the sugar, water, and dried lavender in a small saucepan over medium heat, just until the sugar melts, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and cover to let steep for 10 minutes. Strain the syrup and let cool.
- Brew the tea. Pour the boiling water over the tea bags and let steep for 5 minutes. Remove tea bags, pressing excess liquid from the bags, and let cool.
- Purée the lavender simple syrup, earl gray tea, blackberries, and lemon juice in a blender until smooth. Strain the puree to remove any seeds. You should have about 3-3½ cups of puree.
- In a large pitcher just before serving, slowly and carefully add the sparkling water to the blackberry puree (it should foam up a lot!).
- Place 2-3 scoops of ice cream in each of six large glasses and pour blackberry soda over the top. Add a splash more sparkling water to add a little foam to the top and serve immediately.
Scope out the rest of the delicious beverages folks mixed up for #DRINKTHESUMMER: