Vanilla Ice Cream Drink Recipe: The Boston Cooler

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4.8 stars from 6 ratings of Boston Cooler

What is Vernors ginger ale?

James Vernor is credited with creating a unique Detroit, Michigan beverage called Vernors ginger ale. Different from dry ginger ale, the original sweet version was a mixture of 19 natural flavorings, including vanilla and ginger, then aged in oak barrels. It was an experiment with flavors in attempts to mimic the ginger ale imported from Dublin, Ireland.

Legend has it that this concoction was mixed in 1862 by Vernor just before he went off to join the Civil War. He left the mixture for four years and when he returned and tasted it his opinion was it was, "deliciously different."

Whether this was what he actually said no one knows, however, the slogan stuck with the beverage for many years. What is known is that, according to interview records with James Vernor Jr., the actual formula for the bottled drink came after the 1870, and was not shared as a marketing product until 1880.

Upon his return from the war James Vernor opened a pharmacy and sold his ginger ale there. In 1896 he closed his pharmacy in Detroit, Michigan, and opened a soda fountain store with his son, James Vernor, Jr. Vernor's ginger ale soon became a popular drink throughout Michigan, Ohio and parts of New York.

The Vernor Family sold the company in 1966. Changing ownership one more time, it is currently owned by the Dr. Pepper Snapple Co. from Plano, Texas.

Detroit's Vernor's Ginger Ale
Detroit's Vernor's Ginger Ale | Source

Who invented the ice cream soda?

More than one person has claimed the right to the originator of the ice cream soda: Robert McCay Green, in 1874 of Philadelphia, PA; Fred Sanders, of Detroit, Michigan; Philip Mohr, from New Jersey, in 1782; and George Guy, Robert Green's employee. However, it is Robert Green who is credited with this creative beverage when he added ice cream to soda water with a variety of flavored syrups.

The delicious combination was an instant hit, especially with teen agers. There are many creative names for the ice cream soda, depending on regions of the world and ingredients. Each area seems to have their own specialty. And, in the Detroit, Michigan area of the U.S., this specialty was a combination Vernors ginger ale and vanilla ice cream, Vernor's being the local and most popular ginger ale. The Vernors ice cream soda originally began as a squirt or two of sweet cream added to ginger ale. Vanilla ice cream was later substituted for the cream.

What is the difference between the Vernors ice cream soda and the Boston Cooler

At some point in the late 1800's ice cream soda's became wildly popular to the public. Soda fountains were located where ever a large public gathering was found, such as a drugstore, or the old Woolworth's five and dime.

When James Vernor began bottling and selling his particular brand of ginger ale, the local markets and soda fountains in Detroit would use his product. This included the (Fred) Sanders soda fountain franchises and Elias Brother's Big Boy restaurants. But, any Detroiter knows that, while there may be '31 flavors of Baskin-Robbins' ice cream, there is only one original 'Boston Cooler' and it did not originate from Boston, Massachusetts.

Ice Cream Soda is a glass of flavored soda water with a scoop or two of ice cream-any flavor.

Ice Cream Float is a glass of soda, (called 'pop' in the Midwest), with a dollop or two of ice cream, usually vanilla.

The Boston Cooler is Detroit brand: Vernors Ginger Ale blended with vanilla ice cream in a milkshake consistency.

Ingredients

  • 6-8 oz Vernors Ginger Ale, A sweet ginger ale, not dry
  • 2-3 scoops Vanilla ice cream

Cook Time

Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 5 min
Ready in: 10 min
Yields: 1

Ice Cream Drink: The Boston Cooler

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Best if mixed with a blender.Add a straw and a long handled spoon.Any flavor or brand of vanilla ice cream will work.Best if Vernor's Ginger Ale is used because of its sweet flavor.Fill the blender with ice cream and Vernor'sPower up to mix it.Pour it into a tall glass.Enjoy!
Best if mixed with a blender.
Best if mixed with a blender. | Source
Add a straw and a long handled spoon.
Add a straw and a long handled spoon. | Source
Any flavor or brand of vanilla ice cream will work.
Any flavor or brand of vanilla ice cream will work. | Source
Best if Vernor's Ginger Ale is used because of its sweet flavor.
Best if Vernor's Ginger Ale is used because of its sweet flavor. | Source
Fill the blender with ice cream and Vernor's
Fill the blender with ice cream and Vernor's | Source
Power up to mix it.
Power up to mix it. | Source
Pour it into a tall glass.
Pour it into a tall glass. | Source
Enjoy!
Enjoy! | Source

Vernors ginger ale for your Boston Cooler

Vernors Ginger Soda - 12 PK
Vernors Ginger Soda - 12 PK

Only one type of ginger ale is perfect to make the Boston Cooler: golden, Vernors ginger ale. For those who cannot find it in local stores buy it here.

 

How to make a Boston Cooler

  1. Using a blender, pour 6-8 oz of Vernors Ginger Ale into it and add 2-3 scoops of Vanilla flavored ice cream.
  2. Blend until smooth. Serve in a tall glass with a straw and, if necessary, iced teaspoon.
  3. Enjoy

A 12 oz Boston Cooler:

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1 serving
Calories 124
Calories from Fat36
% Daily Value *
Fat 4 g6%
Carbohydrates 23 g8%
Protein 1 g2%
Cholesterol 14 mg5%
Sodium 46 mg2%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

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Comments 41 comments

DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 3 years ago from Oakley, CA

WOW--voted awesome as well as up and interesting. Even though I've never tried one of these, (indeed, Vernor's is a rarely-seen brand around here), I was amazed to see, for the second time in a month, a reference to the Bob's Big Boy restaurants founded by the Elias brothers--as that is my husband's family!

I wonder if the imported Irish Ginger Ale is what they would call "ginger beer" on that side of the pond? Where I used to live, there was a fish and chips place in British style, and they sold imported ginger beer in small bottles. However, that particular brand was quite dry--almost puckeringly so! ;-)


stayingalivemoma profile image

stayingalivemoma 3 years ago from Tempe, Arizona

Voted up, up, up!! What fond memories you have given me! I grew up in Detroit in the 70s and I love Boston Coolers!! Yes, I still say "pop" instead of soda, even out here in Arizona, where people look at me and wonder what I'm talking about!

I miss Big Boy's and Sanders.....and I grew up on Vernors. I was surprised to see they offer it out here in the west now! Thanks for the walk down memory lane...now I have to go out and get some Vernors and ice cream!


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 3 years ago from Illinois

Of course I love Boston Coolers! (sister....haha). I introduced them to Quincy and we'd bring back bottles of Vernors when we went home to visit. Now the store in town carries it and we'll make them sometimes.

And stayingalivemoma, I too have never stopped saying "pop" - even though my own children have betrayed me and taken their father's Southern way of calling it "soda."

Voted up and 5 stars. It really is incredibly simple to make and delicious!


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 3 years ago from Oakley, CA

@ Danette--we call it "soda" out west here in California, and the other western states; I ran across "pop" when I visited Canada, though. Asking for a soda brought an inquiry as to whether you had an upset stomach. LOL


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina Author

Liz-that is your husband's family? Amazing! Is he from Michigan? I can't believe you haven't tasted one of these. If you can't get it in the store-order it! It's the only thing I crave drinking when I'm sick with the flu. And, heated up it makes a great winter beverage. Try it!

stayingalivemoma-I'm so thrilled you enjoyed the memories this hub evoked. That was my goal! I hope you nab that Vernors-I finally found some in Fairbanks, Alaska where I lived for awhile, and 'hid it away' for those emergency times. No one there understood...as for 'pop' they say soda down south, so I have adapted to the region, but I switch when I visit Michigan. Thanks for your comments.

Hey, sister-I figured you'd have to read this one, ha ha. Remember those Boston Cooler snack nights? They were great!


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 3 years ago from Illinois

@DzyMsLizzy - when I was in boot camp, we were given a one-day pass and my brother, who was stationed at the adjoining training base picked me up for a trip to the beach with some of his buddies. One asked me if I wanted a soda. I said sure, thinking of the pop with ice cream float I grew up with. Then he handed me a coke!


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 3 years ago from Oakley, CA

@ Denise, no, hubby is from right here in CA... the original Bob's Big Boy was in Glendale, CA. The Elias Bros. bought it in 1987, according to Wiki, and THEN moved it the HQ to Michigan.. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Boy_Restaurants

Hubby says he was unaware of this move, but he had reason to distance himself from parts of the family, so it stands to reason he could be missing some details...but, it is his family, and he's known about the BBB connection all his life. ;-)


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States

The calories really aren't bad for such a good looking drink. I'm going to have to look for the Verner's brand at my store. I had sodas when I was young and had forgotten all about them. Thanks.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

I love ice cream sodas, esp. vanille ice cream and coke. I will have to try this Boston cooler. Thank's for sharing..


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina Author

Danette-that's a funny story, ha ha. I bet you were surprised! I remember cousin Millie doing the same thing when I visited one summer. That was my first experience with the word variances in regions. I was about 10 I think.

Liz-thanks for the info and update. :)

Hi Pamela, I thought the same thing when I was looking at it and hope that it's accurate!

Hi Ruby. I hope you do try the BC It is so different...well, in the words of James Vernor, "deliciously different!"


vespawoolf profile image

vespawoolf 3 years ago from Peru, South America

I am so in the mood for a Boston cooler now! I've never tried Vernor's ginger ale but I'd love to. The Irish history is fascinating, too. We used to make rootbeer floats when I was a kid and they were so delicious. I think it's interesting that this one is whipped smooth, like a milkshake. I'm definitely going to try this in a few months when we take a trip back to the U.S.! Thank you for sharing--voted up all the way and shared.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hey Vespa-I remember going to the A & W root beer drive in when I was growing up and getting those awesome floats! In fact, my dad was so mad one night b/c I drove away with an A & W mug. The cooler is very unique b/c it is blended, but boy are they worth the extra time to zap it together. Thanks for the votes and share.


ishwaryaa22 profile image

ishwaryaa22 3 years ago from Chennai, India

An engaging hub! It is interesting to learn about invention of ice cream soda, Vernors' ice cream soda Vs Boston cooler and all. Your recipe is something I would like to try. I have tried the soda ice cream before at a friend's house and I like it. I guess that this brand of ginger ale is not available here. Then I go for Schweppes Ginger Ale. Well-done!

Thanks for SHARING. Useful & Interesting. Voted up


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi ishwaryaa22-Happy New Year to you! Vernor's gingerale really makes the difference. I've tried others, including the Scheweppes. The difference is that Vernor's is sweet and the other brands are dry. So...give it a try from the Amazon website and wait patiently...it will be worth it.


ishwaryaa22 profile image

ishwaryaa22 3 years ago from Chennai, India

Happy New Year to you & your loved ones! I will try Vernor's from Amazon as you suggested. Thank you.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina Author

Thank you. Please be sure to let me know when you have the opportunity to try it what your impression was. It is a family favorite for us.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 3 years ago

I cannot show this to my hubby because he would immediately want one! I used to enjoy making a trip to the old drugstore for a vanilla ice cream shake like this posted in the photo. Boston Cooler, there's a treat I haven't had in ages and I may just have to make one soon -- for hubby!


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina Author

Dianna-that is funny. Surprise him one night with one. We used to call them, 'Boston Cooler Nights' when we would buy the ingredients and the kids would know we were having this special treat. One summer night my kids and husband were visiting with the neighbor next door. I yelled for them to come home and many minutes went by without a return. Since they were outdoors on the deck I yelled out again, "Don't forget, it's Boston Cooler Night" Suddenly everyone started saying goodbye and heading out of the back yard. My neighbor walked over and peeked into the living room window. He said to me, "Denise, I've heard it called many things before but never 'Boston Cooler Night', ha ha. I told him to go home and bother his wife as my kids, (so young back then), stared at me wide eyed and said, "what does that mean?" LOL That was one of our family jokes after that.


Mike Robbers profile image

Mike Robbers 3 years ago from London

I've never tried Vernors ginger ale nor Boston Cooler .. they both sound fantastic! it was great to read about invention of ice cream soda and your recipe is something I would definitely love to try..

thanks for sharing, voted up and shared :)


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Mike-thanks for stopping by and reading it. Maybe you'll give it a try with other ginger ale? Happy writing to you.


Sherry Hewins profile image

Sherry Hewins 3 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

It sounds wonderful, I may have to settle for a substitute on the Vernors ginger ale. But ice cream can cover a multitude of sins. Voted up.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Sherry, try it...you'll like it. Guaranteed. I hope you are able to find some Vernor's (or order it thru Amazon) b/c it makes a difference. It has a sweeter taste, which the dry ginger ale does not. Happy blending to you.


Lipnancy profile image

Lipnancy 3 years ago from Hamburg, New York

When we were kids, floats were one of our favorite things.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Nancy, we loved these when we were growing up. Thanks for stopping by.


Teresa Schultz profile image

Teresa Schultz 3 years ago from East London, in South Africa

I'm not sure of these brands of ginger ale compared to brands here in South Africa - or if it's fizzy or not (it's fizzy here) since I like my milkshakes non-fizzy - I prefer milkshakes to floats - but I do enjoy ginger ale, and absolutely love vanilla milkshakes (my favorite flavor milkshake) so I think I must at least try a ginger ale and vanilla ice-cream float - sounds good - thanks for the info.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Teresa-that's the great thing about this recipe-it's blended together just like a milkshake. A float is more like a scoop of ice cream bobbing in a glass of soda. What I love about this is the creamy consistency with the ginger flavor. I hope you do try it. The specifics about VERNORS ginger ale is that it is 'sweet'. Other ginger ales are 'dry'. So, if you want the true taste of a Boston Cooler order the Vernors from Amazon.com It really makes a difference and you won't regret the real deal.

On cold days I've heated up a mug of Vernor's and it is very soothing.

Thanks for your comments.


aykianink profile image

aykianink 3 years ago

I have never heard of "Vernor's Ginger Ale." I've never had Sonics...I'm still longing for Olive Garden.

Some good lookin' stuff over here though:-)


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina Author

It's mostly a Michigan product. If you are really intrigued, send for it via amazon and give it a try. It's great! That's my oldest granddaughter, Olivia in the photo. Today's her birthday and she just turned 13. :) Thanks for reading.


aykianink profile image

aykianink 3 years ago

"That's my oldest granddaughter, Olivia in the photo." Grandbabies! Very, very cool, Denise:-)

On another note: Happy Birthday, Olivia!:-)


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina Author

Lol, thanks aykianink...I'll definitely pass the well wishes on to her. :) I never thought being a grandmother could be so fun, but it is...I get to 'pretend' I'm wise, lol. They are (4) all beautiful...if you want a better look-hub: My grandchildren-why they fill my heart space' tells the story with photos. Thanks for your additional comment.


lemonkerdz profile image

lemonkerdz 3 years ago from TRUJILLO, PERU

Wow love the idea for a cooling drink. I have never seen vernors ginger ale but can get hold of another brand. Great history lesson on how this came about. Ginger, Vanilla and oak barrels, match made in heaven.

Do you have to drink it with funky painted nails as well :-))


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina Author

lol Only if you are a 13 yr old teenaged girl, lol Thanks for reading and commenting. If you're going to give this new drink a try, do get the Vernors. It really makes a difference-it has a sweet taste, as opposed to the dry taste of other ginger ales. (Hint, amazon carries it...) Have fun.


mr-veg profile image

mr-veg 3 years ago from Colorado United States

Nice one Denise.. was searching for some nice drink to cool off the heat... Weather has been constantly in high nineties this week and the drink will sure cool me off :)


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina Author

I hope you're air conditioning has been working! Thanks for researching this one-in fact, it sounds like a great idea. :) I hope you enjoy your treat. BTW-the photo is of my teen granddaughter.


mr-veg profile image

mr-veg 3 years ago from Colorado United States

oh ok.. She is as pretty as you !! For a moment I thought maybe you posted your childhood photo in here :D


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina Author

Awww, you're sweet. No, but my daughter tells me she is 'frighteningly' like me...whatever that means, ha ha. But, I love Olivia's independent spirit. :) Thanks for your comment.


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 2 years ago from Nashville Tn.

My grandchildren always enjoy grandmas ice cream sodas - and so does grandma! Vernors is the only way to go. I enjoyed the history of both vernors ginger ale and the boston cooler. What a fun and informative hub this is. Sharing it all over the place with votes up and across. Thanks, my friend!


sujaya venkatesh profile image

sujaya venkatesh 2 years ago

i scream


CatherineGiordano profile image

CatherineGiordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

You gave so much more than just a recipe. It's really hot in Florida (where I live) and this sounds refreshing and delicious.


brakel2 profile image

brakel2 2 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

I remember Vernor's ginger ale from Buffalo, New York. it was a great drink, and all the kids loved sodas and gathered at ice cream fountains. You sure gave many recipes, and I love smoothies and sodas, but mostly healthy smoothies. We had a smoothie tonight with the base of cherries and bananas. I will definitely try some of the recipes, Denise. Sharing - Blessings, Audrey


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 2 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Audrey, well thank you very much. This special family soda brings back a lot of memories! :)

Hi sujaya venkatesh We all scream for ice cream, hee hee Currently I have a caramel flavor in my freezer. :)

Catherine, I am not sure if you will find any 'Vernors' down your way. It can be made with other gingerale but it changes the flavor. Go ahead and cool off with the other brand now-but order some and give it the taste test. I'm betting that you will prefer the Vernors flavor. :)

Hi Audrey of brakel2 Thanks for your comments and feedback here. Another Vernors lover-woo hoo! :)

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