Ohhhhhhhhhh man. I love this day, absolutely LOVE it. When was the last time you had an old-fashioned ice cream soda? The famous and delicious marriage of soda and ice cream has been around quite a while, and was created in Philadelphia in 1874, when soda jerker Robert M. Green ran out of cream for his flavored sodas and started scooping vanilla ice cream into them instead. That bit of convenience was a stroke of genius, and now, over 100 years after this invention, we enjoy ice cream sodas all over the world, from Australia and New Zealand to Guatemala, Brazil, and right here in New York City!
My favorite ice cream soda is a root beer float, personally: the tangy bitterness of the root beer fits so well with the creamy, sweet vanilla ice cream, and as it melts into the soda it creates this awesome mix of flavors that you never get when you try to recreate it in another form (like a full-on root beer float-flavored ice cream, or root beer float candy. Nuh-uh! Not the same.) Ice cream sodas come in a variety of flavor combinations, from “chocolate cows” (root beer and chocolate ice cream) to the Brazilian “vaca dourada” (vanilla ice cream and Guarana soda) and even the Harry Potter favorite, Butterbeer (which, if you order one at the Three Broomsticks in Universal Studio’s Potter World, is root beer and butterscotch ice cream). There’s also a variation involving ginger ale and vanilla ice cream…but since the name of that combination is the “Boston Cooler,” here in New York we don’t talk about it at all. 😛
But there is one thing that connects all ice cream soda variations together: they make you feel like it’s the “good ol’ days” again. The bygone eras of malt shops and classic-style burger joints, with soda jerkers in paper hats serving kids ice cream sodas straight from the fountain. Places like that just don’t seem to exist anymore, least of all in fast-paced cities like New York.
…that is, unless you live in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. 😉 Sitting in this neighborhood of trendy new restaurants and old-school row houses is the Brooklyn Farmacy, an old-fashioned soda fountain restaurant, housed in a century-old building that used to be a pharmacy (hence the name). Here, they serve up all the old classics, like ice cream sodas, and the quintessential New York beverage, the egg cream, all with Brooklyn-based P&H Soda Co. syrups. The ice cream’s also all-local, sourced from a family creamery in the Adirondacks, and coupled with the soda, you’ve got yourself a classic ice cream soda that’s all New York.
Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain
513 Henry St (between Sackett St & Union St), Carroll Gardens
“Nostalgia reigns in this frozen-in-time makeover of what was a pharmacy for nearly 100 years, now serving egg creams, ice cream sodas, shakes and sundaes. Lots of old stuff, like medicine bottles, is on display, and there is penny candy along with an array of artisanal Brooklyn products.”–The New York Times
“Their exceedingly kid-friendly soda fountain lets moms and dads (and grandmas and grandpas) share with their progeny the Proustian thrill of their childhood desserts. Sodas are all made with Brooklyn-based P&H Soda Co. syrups; ice cream comes from a small, all-natural producer in the Adirondacks; and the cupcakes, pies, and even red-velvet Twinkies hail from local bakeries. Stop by on Saturday mornings to hear Karen K and the Jitterbugs strum twenties classics or on Tuesday evenings for the regular fiddle jam.”–New York Magazine
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“This is a complete fave of mine! I mean, how charming can a little ice cream/soda/ proper old school pharmacy be?! And what’s so cool about this space is that they lovingly restored and used what was already there—an old fashioned pharmacy. I really feel like I am stepping back into a more genteel and easy-going time when I walk through the doors.”–Joolz M.
“Loved this place for desert! Stopped in here one night after dinner looking for a delicious sweet treat. My sister and I shared a piece of the pecan pie topped with the pumpkin ice cream. What an incredible combination of delicious fall flavors! My mom ordered a chocolate ice cream soda, which was equally as delicious and surprisingly lite. They also have lots of different ice cream flavors, sodas, pies, cupcakes. The place is an old pharmacy and has the original molding and an authentic pharmacy look to it.”–Natalie F.
Make sure you check out the updated NYC Food Holidays Map to find this most recent holiday!