This was my “driveway moment” this morning. I loved learning about the local nature of these remedies and the communal nature of the venues.
EnlargeLibrary of Congress
A soda fountain in south Texas in the early 20th century. Modern mixologists are discovering old recipes and forgotten flavors of the soda fountain era.text size A A ASeptember 1, 2011
If you’re hankering for something new to drink — something more interesting than the usual cocktail or soda — you may want to look to the past. Way back in the 19th century, pharmacists and soda-jerks created all sorts of exotic, lip-smacking sensations by mixing fizzy mineral water with unique blends of sweet syrups and bitters.
“The soda fountain was once an equivalent to the local saloon,” says Darcy O’Neil, the author of Fix the Pumps, a history of the golden age of soda fountains. In 1875, he explains, there was a soda counter in almost every American city.
By dusting off these old recipes and publishing them, he’s helped launch a bit of a renaissance. From New Orleans to Boston, Nashville and Washington, D.C., mixologists are serving up this style of drinks.EnlargeMaggie Starbard/NPR
Phosphates and bitters, a mixture of herbs steeped in alcohol, are part of the revival of old-timey soda fountain drinks at places like PS7’s in Washington, D.C.
The trend reflects a shift away from the industrial soft drinks most of us grew up with, says Melissa Abbott, director of culinary insights at the Hartman Group, a consumer trends consultancy. “Old-timey sodas represent the movement toward higher quality — meaning seasonal, small-batch, local, even organic,” she says.