The Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Fountain is one of a growing number of old school soda fountains that are slowly repopulating New York, albeit on a small scale. This classic institution remains etched into New Yorkers memories and while the Soda Fountain died in the 1970’s the memory lives on.
The grand age of the soda fountain began in the early 1900’s with the advent of the Liquid Carbonic Co. founded in 1888 by Jacob Baur. Being a Pharmacist he marketed the Carbonic Soda Fountain to the people he new best, hence the connection between drug stores and soda fountains. From here it was the Prohibition of 1919 that really gave impetus to this burgeoning trend-“The bar is dead, the fountain lives, and soda is king!” (John Sommerset 1920, Drug Topic).
Without beer and liquor it was the Egg Cream, Cherry Lime Ricky and the Root Beer Float that helped to fill the social vacuum left by Prohibition. The Pharmacies soon became a place for people to enjoy a guilt free treat while socialising with friends and family.The Brooklyn Farmacy has sympathetically recreated the tradition.
The store was in fact previously a pharmacy, hence many of the features are original. With it being common place for the drug store shelving to be filled with the remedies of the day, they have cleverly swapped pharmacuticles for many of Brooklyn best known food producers. Hence you can find products from several different Brooklyn pickling companies, P&H syrups, Good Batch Waffles, the Brooklyn Salsa company, and Early bird granola. Many of the ingredients in the classic drinks and dessserts are also supplied by Brooklyns finest.
So after the history what about the product?
This to most New Yorkers probably borders on sacrilage, but it has to be said. Milk (0r any dairy product) and soda should never be mixed. It is a ghastly combination, something that is more akin to a joke shop dare than a tasty beverage, so all those egg creams and root beer floats are best avoided. The desserts however fare much better, an ice cream sandwich made with caramel waffles and topped with caramel sauce tasted as good as it sounds. The ice cream sundaes were equally as appealing. The menu contains many classic American treats and on my next trip I look forward to trying the pies and house made Twinkies.
The Brooklyn Pharmacy is a great window into the past yet manages to support the cornerstone of ‘The New Brooklyn Cuisine‘ that is the mantra of farm to table, local, seasonal and sustainable food.
My advice is if you want to see a real piece of New York cross the bridge and check out one of the many excellent restaurants in Brooklyn and then head over to the Farmacy for a sweet treat and a true piece of nostalgia.