The soda fountain is making a comeback.
Places like Portland’s Blueplate, Philadelphia’s Franklin Fountain and Brooklyn’s Farmacy & Soda Fountain are leading a revival that is bringing modern culinary values (think seasonal, local, ripe and hand-made) to traditional ice cream sodas, sundaes and egg creams.
Soda fountains originally reached their peak around the turn of the 20th century. Back then, every drink was mixed to order by trained professionals called “soda jerks” – so named because of the jerking motion required to pull the fountain taps.
The drinks they made were delicious, but weren’t always just about taste. In many cases, pharmacists would install soda fountains in their establishments primarily to hide the flavors of bitter medicine ingredients like quinine and iron. Customers would walk into the pharmacy and pick up their foul-tasting medicine, and then stroll over to the soda-jerk’s counter to have it mixed up into a more palatable concoction.
Today’s “neo-jerks” are dusting off old recipes and creating new ones, launching a full-fledged fountain renaissance. This time around, it is all about taste. To give the drinks 21st century appeal, modern jerks are experimenting with flavors like huckleberry, lavender and even olive oil. If you’re looking for fresh drink ideas to serve in your restaurant, here are two fountain recipes to inspire you. And if you need highly trained, professional staff for your restaurant, bar or hotel, give Penguin Staff a call!
Experimental Orange Soda
(from Gina Chersevani, PS7′s)
2 scoops vanilla ice cream
1 oz. orange/vanilla syrup (see recipe below)
1 pinch or half bar spoon acid phosphate crystals
5 drops Bittermens Orange Citrate bitters
Top with soda water
In a fountain glass (or Collins glass), add vanilla ice cream, orange/vanilla syrup and acid phosphate. Top with seltzer water. Stir until frothy. Serve with a spoon and straw.
4 medium navel oranges
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 vanilla bean
To make orange/vanilla syrup, juice 4 medium navel oranges, reserving the rinds. Place the juice and rinds in a saucepan with the sugar and water. Add the seeds scraped from the vanilla bean, as well as the bean itself. Simmer mixture for about 20 minutes, until mixture becomes thick and reduced. Remove from heat, strain out orange rinds and vanilla bean. Keep liquid refrigerated in glass container for up to a month.
(NYTimes.com, adapted from Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain, Brooklyn)
Grated zest of 2 medium oranges
Grated zest of 1 large lime
Grated zest of 1 large lemon
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
1 section of a star anise pod, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried lavender flowers
2 teaspoons minced ginger
1 one-and-a-half-inch piece vanilla bean, split
1/4 teaspoon citric acid (available at health food stores, or canning supply stores or kingarthurflour.com)
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon (packed) light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon caramel color powder, optional (available at kingarthurflour.com).
In a heavy pot over medium heat, bring 2 cups water to a simmer with the zests, cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise, lavender, ginger, vanilla and citric acid. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes.
In a food processor, whirl the sugars together for one minute (this will help them dissolve), then transfer to a large bowl. If using caramel color, sprinkle it over the sugar.
Line a sieve or colander with a double thickness of cheesecloth and place over the bowl. Pour the contents of the pot through the sieve. Carefully gather up the corners of the cheesecloth and twist the top to close. Use a spoon to press the bundle against the sieve, squeezing out all the flavorful liquid.
Stir the syrup and let cool, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves, about 15 minutes. Transfer to containers and keep refrigerated. To make a soda, pour 1/4 cup syrup over ice and add 1 cup seltzer. Stir.