New-School Soda Fountains

Soda fountains like Brooklyn Farmacy capitalize on local character and a retro feel that never goes out of style.
Soda fountains like Brooklyn Farmacy capitalize on local character and a retro feel that never goes out of style. Michael Turkell

Nostalgia Gets a New Twist

Nostalgia Gets a New Twist

It’s apparent that sugary foods and beverages are falling out of vogue these days, but creating artistic presentations and eliciting emotional dining experiences are moving higher on the list of priorities for restaurant owners and their patrons.

In an unlikely twist, this means the soda fountain: the old-school meeting, mingling, and mixing space of the town, is making a comeback, with an emphasis on craft and community creating nostalgia for local eateries—including greasy spoons

Two squirts of syrup, 10 ounces of carbonated water, and a handful of ice is all it takes to make an old-fashioned soda fountain soda. But a true soda jerk knows how to mix much more than those three ingredients. Acid phosphates add a dry tartness to a traditional soda, while a few scoops of ice cream make it a float. An egg cream has a squirt of chocolate syrup and milk topped with a frothy head of seltzer water. Sassafras, teaberry, lavender, ginger, acids, and wintergreen are among additives mixed into sodas at the fountain. Highly concentrated syrups from pineapples, cherries, peaches, oranges, and just about anything that can be juiced are also popular ingredients mixed into traditional sodas that are coming back in today’s fountains—which originally took off when chemists started mixing fruit juices, syrups, and other soothing additives to help customers down foul-tasting medicinal concoctions.

In 1895, there were around 50,000 fountains across the U.S. While the number of fountains has thinned significantly, improvements on the fountain’s efficiency along with creative mixology of different flavors are building steam for a resurgence of this former social scene.

St. Francis Fountain, San Francisco’s oldest ice cream parlor, has been mixing sodas for nearly 100 years—since 1918. Ray Mason, a server at St. Francis, says the neighborhood’s culture has been changing—and not in favor of traditional diner food, with a noticeable shift towards locally sourced and farm-to-table foods.

Despite that, the fountain has been capitalizing on its own local character, and has even added a vegan shake option with vanilla soy ice cream to cater to emerging food and beverage trends.

“We get some people who come in here and say they’ve been coming for 70 years, since they were kids,” Ray says, “so the culture is kind of part of their life.”

Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Fountain was founded in 2010, but the shop’s mission also focuses on finding value in bringing retro charm to a new generation.



Lets hope we can squeeze out Coke and Pepsi and the 70 dollar bag-in-box for sugar and chemicals

Abandon the free refills too

This would be a Nice thing for the generation of today....A good hangout with friends...


Add new comment