Melon soda float is a Japanese-style, fizzy, creamy and delightful ice cream float. It's known simply as cream soda in Japan and made using just three main ingredients — melon syrup, club soda and vanilla ice cream.
Perfect for summertime but if you're like me, you'll find yourself making it all-year-round.
Japanese cream soda float
I'm surprised that this creamy melon soda float hasn't become mainstream and popular worldwide. I mean sure, you might come across bottles of Japanese melon cream soda / pop in your local Asian store — but nothing beats this original version.
And you can enjoy it as a two-in-one, drink and dessert treat. Alternate between digging your spoon for some ice cream and then sipping some creamy fizzy melon-y goodness. Yum yummy yum!
Once you try this, you'll definitely want to try more melon-flavored beverages. When that craving strikes you've got to try my melon milk recipe. It uses fresh honeydew or cantaloupe melons for making homemade melon syrup. So far it's the most liked recipe on my blog and for good reason.
Oh and while in Japan this drink is known as cream soda, it's not the same as American cream soda that's mostly vanilla-flavored. I've shared more about some differences later on.
Why you'll love this drink
- Delightful flavor: So different from your regular soda / pop flavors. Refreshing, fruity and truly one of a kind.
- Fun presentation: Vibrant green colored soda, a floating scoop of ice cream and (optional) maraschino cherry on top. Now that's going to be a conversation starter.
- Easy prep: Minimal prep effort and time and the recipe is so easy to follow.
- Family-friendly: Kids will love it. And so will adults. Not all adults drink alcohol, so a great choice for inclusive gatherings.
- Perfect dessert alternative: Feels light and less indulgent than traditional desserts. Plus it's a drink and dessert combo in one glass.
Here are some helpful notes on the ingredients you need for making melon cream soda. Check out the recipe card below for adjustable quantities / measurements.
- Melon syrup
- Has to be store-bought melon-flavored kakigori (Japanese shaved ice) syrup.
- I use a ratio of 1 part syrup to 4 parts soda but check your bottle's label for recommendations. Syrups vary in sweetness so my ratio may not be right for the syrup you have.
- If instructions on your bottle aren't translated in your local language, use Google Translate app (use the camera feature).
- I've tried substituting with homemade melon syrup that I use in my melon milk recipe but it didn't work for this one.
- Kakigori syrup often contains fructose syrup and artificial flavorings so this drink isn't for those seeking healthy options.
- I found the syrup in a small Japanese grocery store. Couldn't find it in big Asian stores. You can try checking online stores or Amazon.
- Can't vouch for non-Japanese melon syrups since I haven't tried them.
- If unable to find melon syrup, you can use ready-to-drink Japanese melon-flavored soda — leave out club soda in this case.
- You will likely find these melon sodas in big Asian grocery stores, Japanese dollar stores (like Daiso or Oomomo), sometimes in sushi places, and (rarely) in international aisles of major grocery chains.
- But, but, but — be aware that ready-made melon soda doesn't have the same amazing/potent flavor as the combo of melon syrup and club soda. With melon syrup, you can also adjust the flavor intensity to your liking.
- Club soda / seltzer water / sparkling water / carbonated water — Low sodium club soda is the best choice but you can pick any of the remaining options. Low sodium because it doesn't alter the taste of the drink as much as the regular one. Also make sure the soda isn't flavored and chill it in the refrigerator before using.
- Vanilla ice cream — Use your favorite one. If using vegan ice cream, make sure it's neutral in taste (besides the main vanilla flavor of course) or it will alter the overall taste.
- Maraschino cherry (optional) — It's typical to serve this drink with a preserved, sweetened cherry on top. You can find these in grocery stores in baking, canned/jarred food or dessert topping aisles. Feel free to omit if you don't have any other use for them.
How to make melon soda float
To prepare melon soda float, follow these easy, photo-assisted instructions. Oh and be sure to check out recipe card below for the printable version of this recipe that has all the quantities, instructions and notes in one place.
Grab a tall glass and fill it with crushed ice or ice cubes. Then add melon syrup.
Pour in chilled club soda and give it a good mix.
Place a scoop of your fav vanilla ice-cream.
Then top it off with a maraschino cherry. Serve right away — with a tall spoon and a straw.
Japanese cream soda vs. cream soda elsewhere
When in Japan, don't be misled by the word cream soda as it might not be the drink you're accustomed to in your country. Here are some differences:
- Float vs beverage — in Japan the term cream soda refers to an ice cream float made using melon syrup, club soda and vanilla ice cream — or is sometimes bottled/canned soda that tends to mimic the taste of the original float. In most other parts of world, cream soda implies a carbonated beverage (not a float).
- Flavor — Japanese cream soda is a combo of melon and creamy vanilla flavors. Globally speaking, there can be a lot of flavor variation when it comes to cream sodas. Depending on region or brand you may find these with vanilla, caramel, raspberry, cotton candy, or even floral flavors.
- Color — Japanese version has a vibrant green color. Cream sodas in other places come in different colors including transparent, brown, blue and even pink.
- Toppings — Japanese melon cream soda typically comes with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and additional toppings like whipped cream, fruit chunks or cherries. Elsewhere, cream soda is usually enjoyed as a standalone carbonated beverage.
Melon soda float variations
The original recipe, complete with vanilla ice cream and cute little cherry on top is undeniably fantastic on its own. But if you want to make this float special in your own way, here are a few suggestions.
- Extra creamy — drizzle a bit of condensed milk or top with some whipped cream
- Melon bits — chop or grate your fresh cantaloupe or honeydew into tiny pieces/shreds and mix into the soda before adding ice cream. And don't forget to use a wide straw.
- Rose water — add ½ teaspoon rose water to the glass along with melon syrup, before you add soda. The melon-rose combo is not a Japanese thing but it's soooo good.
- Boba — throw in some prepared/cooked tapioca pearls for a little bubble-tea-style twist.
- Vegan ice cream — swap out the traditional dairy vanilla ice cream for a vegan alternative.
Other uses of melon syrup
Are you thinking, "Nah, I don't want to go around looking for some melon syrup just for this one recipe"? Think again! Here are some of the many fun ways to use it.
- Shaved ice desserts — elevate shaved ice treats such as snow cones, kakigori, Hawaiian shaved ice, granita, bingsu, halo-halo, raspados or goals with this syrup.
- Melon soda/pop — ditch the store-bought soda and make your own at home. Just follow my melon soda float recipe as is, but omit ice cream and toppings.
- Flavored lemonade — add a little syrup to your fav lemonade base recipe. Cut down on the added sugar as the syrup is sweet.
- Ice tea — stir in a little syrup to your unsweetened black, green or herbal tea and serve with ice.
- Cocktails/mocktails — be your own mixologist and create fun cocktails/mocktails by incorporating melon syrup in your creations.
- Milkshakes and smoothies — the melon flavor of the syrup will pair great with smoothies/shakes that have bananas, pineapples, strawberries, mangoes or peaches.
- Boba/bubble tea — prepare black/green/fruit tea of your choice, add in cooked tapioca pearls, some dairy/vegan milk and a little melon syrup. Voilà!
- Flavored yogurt or parfait — mix the syrup into your yogurt for a burst of flavor. Enjoy on its own or use as a delicious base for parfaits.
- Read the label — if the language is unfamiliar, use Google Translate app on your phone to check the recommended syrup-to-water or syrup-to-soda ratio.
- Use a tall glass — not only to showcase the vibrant colors but to be able to have sufficient quantity of soda, ice and ice cream in the glass.
- Chill your soda — super important to use chilled soda. Excessive ice to compensate for unchilled soda will reduce the space left for soda, resulting in less fizz and very strongly flavored initial sips.
- Low sodium soda — so the taste doesn't get altered much. Always open a fresh bottle/can for use. No fun without the fizz.
- Adjust the syrup quantity — increase or decrease the quantity to your liking.
- Eat and drink — don't wait for ice cream to melt. Enjoy little bites of ice cream as you slowly sip your drink.
No. I've tried using fresh melons to make melon syrup at home, and that works great for some recipes, but didn't quite hit the mark for this one. You need store-bought Japanese melon syrup to capture the true flavor of this drink.
I have covered this in the ingredients section above. But in short, look for Japanese grocery stores in your vicinity (not the generic Asian stores). Or look online or on Amazon.
Well I haven't tried any other ones in this drink. You may end up with something nice when doing so but that will not be authentic melon cream soda float.
Not really. Best to prepare it just before serving so the drink stays fizzy and the ice cream doesn't melt.
- ¼ cup (59 ml) melon syrup - (Note A)
- 1 cup (237 ml) low sodium club soda - chilled (Note B for substitutes)
- 1 scoop vanilla ice cream
- 1 maraschino cherry - optional. (Note C)
- some crushed ice or ice cubes
- In a tall glass, add some crushed ice or ice cubes.
- Pour melon syrup and then chilled club soda. Give it a mix. Taste the drink and add more syrup if desired.
- Add additional ice at this point if needed. Some ice needs to remain near the surface to support the floating ice cream.
- Finally, place a scoop of vanilla ice cream and garnish with a maraschino cherry.
- Serve immediately with a tall (long handle) spoon and a straw. Enjoy!
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