In the 1950s, the egg crème was a beverage of choice at New York City diners and lunch counters. Today, many bar operators are hand-crafting soda beverages. The level of sophistication and the list of ingredients carries the status of a fine cocktail, however.
Todd Thrasher, sommelier at Eamonn’s A Dublin Chipper, PX and Restaurant Eve in Alexandria, Va., is one of the most practiced at soda stylings. “It took me nine months to get the syrup ingredients for my cola just right,” he says. A mix of 17 herbs, cola nut, acids, water, spices and sugar, Thrasher’s cola—and other sodas he makes—earns its $5.50 price tag. Two of the house made sodas—ginger ale and lemon lime—are combined with yuzu juice to make Eamonn’s Lemonade, the house “soda” of choice.
Chicago’s Prairie Grass even features a fresh, hand-crafted soda of the month. “We get a lot of call for the sodas,” says Daniel Sviland, the concept’s manager and mixologist. February’s soda was Blood Orange and Ginger; March’s offering was Grapefruit. April’s soda will be Fresh Lime with Bitters.
Mercadito Restaurants, which operates units in New York and Chicago, offers fresh fruit sodas that are hand-made from muddled fruits, citrus, sweeteners, soda and seltzer. “We saw the potential revenue that can be generated by having interesting non-alcoholic drinks that are well-made and use fresh ingredients, such as our Refrescos de Frutas,” says owner Alfredo Sandoval.