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Ice Cream Soda

Where can I get a classic ice cream soda (milk, syrup, soda water, ice cream) around here? A place that serves it in a traditional soda fountain glass would be preferable. We live in Newton but are happy to travel.

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  1. I've never heard of an ice cream soda, although it sounds delicious! Kind of like an egg cream with ice cream. Close to home, I would imagine Cabot's in Newton might fit the bill. They have that old school traditional soda fountain/ice cream feel.

    1. If you live in Newton you're in luck: Cabot's does lovely ice cream sodas, in a traditional glass, with whipped cream and a cherry on top.

      (I *love* ice cream sodas, but it's become nearly impossible to find an ice cream shop where the staff still know how to make them. I've had some shocking travesties of the form over the years.)

      1. Wally's in Auburndale claims to make them on their website......I've never been though. Lizzy's, just up the road from Wally's on Moody Street in Waltham, certainly makes them too, with their yummy homemade ice cream (which I'd take any day over Cabot's).

        24 Replies
        1. re: Science Chick

          Have you had an ice cream soda at Lizzy's?

          1. re: Allstonian

            Nope, I have not. I'm not inclined to order them....if I go for a fountain drink, it's a black/white malted! But they do make them there.......and I like their ice cream!

            1. re: Science Chick

              Right. I know that you don't think much of the ice cream at Cabot's, and there are certainly many places with better (although I like the ice cream at Cabot's perfectly well even if it isn't the best.) BUT - there's an art to making an ice cream soda, and as I said above there are very few ice cream shops left where the staff know that art. For those of us who *do* like ice cream sodas, it's really disappointing to be stuck with a half-assed concoction that hasn't been properly made.

              Here's a thread from 2009 on the same topic:

              1. re: Allstonian

                Definitely feel you on that, Allstonian. As a born and bred New Englander, whose grandfather owned an old fashioned pharmacy with a soda counter in Hartford (Berson Pharmacy), I appreciate the craft of those! My first gig when I was 16 was in an ice cream shop, where I learned the proper way to make an ice cream soda! Just trying to offer up places in the Newton area that have ice cream drinks......no reviews on the board either way for Lizzy's and Wally's, so maybe some field work is necessary here? ;)

                1. re: Science Chick

                  What is the proper way to make an ice cream soda, or would you have to kill me if you told?

                  1. re: FoodDabbler

                    I'd also like to know, considering I haven't had one since I visited Sparr's when I was a kid.

                    1. re: FoodDabbler

                      Chocolate Ice Cream Soda

                      Place in a tall glass:
                      2 scoops good vanilla ice cream
                      A couple good squirts chocolate syrup
                      Pour over this:
                      Soda water to cover the ice cream

                      That's how we made them in Ohio and Indiana. I don't know of any secrets other than that the ice cream must be vanilla, not chocolate. I could get a chocolate soda at any ice cream shop, including DQ and Baskin Robbins as far back as I remember, then all of a sudden nobody knew what they were or how to make them anymore. I guess it's a generation thing, but why would heaven on earth in a soda glass fall out of favor?

                      1. re: jmcarthur8

                        Sorry, this is not at all correct, at least here in New England. (Also, the flavor restrictions you mention don't apply hereabouts. My own favorite, especially in the summertime, is strawberry soda with strawberry ice cream.) The ice cream goes in last, for one thing, and that syrup should be mixed with a little bit of light cream.

                        Pemma knows how to make a proper old-school Brigham's-style ice cream soda:

                        1. re: Allstonian

                          I didn't grow up with ice cream sodas, but I drank my share in my twenties (*my* twenties, I stress, not *the* twenties). I remember them being along the lines of Allstonian's description. I'm surprised to glean from this thread that the ice cream soda is deadish. Have not chains such as Friendly's carried them throughout? I think they had them in the past -- have they stopped?

                          1. re: FoodDabbler

                            Friendly's does sell them but the consistency varies wildly even within the same store. You would think that there would be a company or even a store-wide training program but , at least when it comes to ice cream sodas, they allow creativity and not always with good results.

                          2. re: Allstonian

                            -Vigorously mix syrup and light cream at bottom of tall fountain glass (about equal parts)
                            - Add seltzer to about 3/4 the way up the glass
                            - Top with generous scoop of ice cream.
                            - Garnish with whipped cream and a cherry

                            Must be served both with a straw and a long spoon to get at ice cream as it sinks into the glass after drinking.....

                            1. re: Science Chick

                              Searching for any referrals to the ice cream sodas of my childhood in Taunton, MA (a weekly post-church indulgence at Chiesta and Tosti's (sp?), a little convenience/ice cream store) I came across this short and probably questionable but fun little blurb from the Taunton Gazette:


                              Always so hard to choose between chocolate and strawberry.

                              1. re: bear

                                Nice link. Paul Dickson's Great American Ice Cream Book has more information about the apparent invention of the ice cream soda by Robert Green in 1874, and a whole chapter on "Jerks and Bubble Merchants". Your indulging in ice cream sodas after church is amusing because (Dickson says) fizzy drinks were considered "bad" for a while and were banned on Sundays -- leading to the introduction of non-fizzy alternatives, such as the Sundae.

                            2. re: Allstonian

                              "Sorry, this is not at all correct, at least here in New England. (Also, the flavor restrictions you mention don't apply hereabouts. My own favorite, especially in the summertime, is strawberry soda with strawberry ice cream."

                              Allstonian, as I mentioned, this recipe is the correct way to make a Chocolate Ice Cream Soda in the Midwest where I am from. I understand that in New England cream is included and the process is different. The "flavor restriction" was for that particular recipe, not for any other flavor of ice cream soda.
                              It's interesting to find all the variety in traditional recipes around the US here on Chowhound, from chili to spaghetti, pizza and hot dogs and sodas. Each region has its own special way of making a dish, and as far as I'm concerned, all of them are 'correct'.

                              1. re: jmcarthur8

                                Yeah, that's the ice cream soda formula I grew up with, too. (I'm a Clevelander, originally.) Compared to the ones up here, there's a lot more ice cream, no heavy cream, and pretty much always vanilla ice cream. And the syrup has to stay streaked through, not evenly mixed in.

                                Strawberry ones (with real strawberries-in-syrup, not just strawberry-flavored syrup) were always my favorite. The ones up here don't form enough ice crystals because there's not enough ice cream for me -- they're more like egg creams with a scoop of ice cream.

                      2. re: Allstonian

                        BTW, I also used to live right near the old Sparr's Drug Store on Huntington Ave. They still had their soda counter up and running into the late 80's/early 90's. Great fountain drinks...... :(

                        1. re: Science Chick

                          Did you ever have a 'toasted French' from Sparr's?

                            1. re: Science Chick

                              JPLicks sells egg creams; i wonder if they make ice cream sodas....

                              1. re: opinionatedchef

                                They do, and they are usually (but not always) made correctly. But the best I've had in years was at Cabot's. The key is that the shop has to have fountain sodas, with a plain soda tap. Most ice cream shops don't have those anymore, and no matter how wonderful the ice cream is, the soda's not going to come out right without that. (The other big mistake that gets made is when the person making the soda omits that little hit of light cream with the syrup, before the soda gets added.)

                        2. re: Allstonian

                          I have had one at Lizzys and it was dreadful. They took a scoop of ice cream and poured a soda over it. While Cabots may not have as fancy of an ice cream as Lizzy's, they do know how to make ice cream soda's and I like their ice cream. They have the machines that make good soda fountain drinks. I also had an ice cream soda recently at JP licks and the kids behind the counter really did not know how to prepare one properly.

                          1. re: cherrytomato

                            Which JP Licks? I've had the best luck at the Coolidge Corner one.

                            1. re: cherrytomato

                              That's a terrible excuse for an ice cream soda! Thanks for taking one for the team, cherrytomato.....and sorry if it was my fault!

                        3. Ice cream sodas disappeared with the old soda dispensers, the ones with a lever which when pushed one way delivered soda in a thin stream and in a bubbly flow when the lever was pulled.
                          I afraid the most reliable place to find a close approximation of a classic ice cream soda is in your own kitchen.

                          1. I can tell you with total assurance that JPLicks in Davis Square and Toscannini's have NO clue how to make an ice cream soda. My favorite version as a kid was made with chocolate syrup and mocha chip ice cream.

                            How I craved that when I was doing the whole chemo thing, but that craving was never satisfied.

                            1. My 86 year old Mom loves a mocha (one scoop of chocolate and one scoop of coffee on top) ice cream soda. I take her to Saturday 4pm Mass and then we get a bite to eat after.

                              We've had good luck at ... wait for it ... Brigham's (yes, still!). Made correctly by experienced Brigham's staff, although not a traditional glass any more. The Brigham's we've gotten them at recently are at

                              (1) 13 Beale Street (Wollaston/Quincy)
                              (2) 1328 Mass. Ave (Arlington Heights).

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: mmocpi

                                mmocpi-is the Brigham's in Quincy the one that's been operated by the same (German?) family for decades? If so I had the pleasure of getting a sundae there a few months back and what a treat that was! From the vintage decor to the lovely service by the matriarch-who had to be in her 70's (if not 80's!) and still right on the ball!

                                1. re: mtm7654

                                  Yes, that is the place. Vintage, for sure. Nice people who run that place and know what they are doing! Arlington Heights is also very very vintage decor :-) Shabbier than Quincy but I still appreciate it very much.
                                  There are only 4 restaurants left, that I know of. The 2 others are:

                                  (3) 37 Main Street, Hingham, MA
                                  (4) 350 Winthrop Avenue, North Andover, MA [Never been to this one. Never up in that 'hood.]

                                  1. re: mmocpi

                                    The last couple times I went to the Arlington Heights branch, I noticed a disturbing slippage in both food and service, but this was right during the whole turmoil was at its peak. Have they righted themselves? I'd hate to think that I've eaten my last Great American with a raspberry-lime rickey.

                                    1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                      I've been there twice since the turmoil. I had never been there before the Belmont Brigham's had closed so I can't say whether they slipped but we thought the grilled cheeses, ice cream soda, and frappe we had were all good.

                              2. Bailey's in Wellesley, Chestnut Hill, and Boston.
                                Brigham's in every village of Newton, and in every neighboring city and town.
                                That great soda fountain in the pharmacy next to Strawberry Records on Boylston St. in the Back Bay.
                                Oh, wait ....
                                Never mind.

                                2 Replies
                                  1. re: Blumie

                                    Hell, I was half way out the door before the "never mind".

                                  2. Dear Velda,
                                    I hope you read this because I'm going to change your life. I'm from Brooklyn and one of my favorite memories was sitting down at a candy store with a soda fountain and asking for a chocolate soda or, if I had a quarter, a black and white ice cream soda. After I grew up and left Brooklyn, I longed for the black and white ice cream soda which was not available in the Boston area until I discovered That Nestle's Quik Chocolate Syrup (not the powder and not Hershey's) made the chocolate soda that I longed for. Fox's Ubet works also. The best ice cream that I know of is my own home made without any need for a machine. My recipe uses one quart of light cream, 6 ounces of sugar, and two table spoons of vanilla extract. Mix them all together and put in the freezer and forget it until it freezes. It is not as smooth as commercial ice cream but it is great and all natural.
                                    Since I like my sodas very highly carbonated, I use a Soda Stream soda maker with very cold water. The amount of Nestle's syrup is not critical. You can experiment for how much you prefer.
                                    When I am home, I have more than one black and white ice cream sodas every day and I don't get tired of them in the least. They don't go well with Steak and other such dishes but for desert and for any other time they are the best drink I know of.
                                    Dave Greenstein

                                    1. I have to agree that it is difficult to find a great ice cream soda anymore. I don't know how many of them I have ordered and then walked out leaving the horrible concoction on the counter because they were made with 7-up or ginger ale, the ice cream was the first in the glass, it was put on that milk shake mixing machine and the list of horrors continues... I will have to try Cabot's but until then I will quench my desire for a good ice cream soda by making them at home.

                                      I found some great coffee flavor syrup that I mix with my Hershey syrup with some heavy cream to get my mocha flavor for my big scoop of Brigham's mocha almond ice cream or I will just do a Brigham's coffee ice cream with coffee syrup and I am in heaven! The worse part about making them at home is having to have a soda every night until all the ice cream is gone! LOL!

                                      Raspberry Lime Rickey's are another soda drink that is never made correctly anymore. I miss the good Old Days of the neighborhood soda fountains.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: MeffaBabe

                                        If you are looking for a Raspberry Lime Rickey, I'm pretty sure the ones at Bartley's Burgers in Harvard Sq. are still the real thing.

                                        1. re: Science Chick

                                          Bartley's are still the real thing. They make their own syrup and use plenty of real lime.

                                          C&L Frosty in Sherborn also makes real lime rickeys. I'm fairly certain they make raspberry lime rickeys as well.

                                        2. re: MeffaBabe

                                          Weirdly enough, while Cabot's continues to make excellent ice cream sodas, their lime and raspberry lime rickies are vile.

                                          1. re: Allstonian

                                            Not many places make a good lime rickey. It has to be made with fresh limes and hardly anyone does that, most use some syrupy stuff that is nasty. I miss Brighams, they had the best lime rickeys and ice cream soda's.

                                            1. re: MeffaBabe

                                              Like I commented 2 years ago, the German family who runs the old Brigham's at 13 Beale Street in Wollaston, now called "The Ice Cream Parlor", still makes all the old Brigham's favorites correctly including the Rickey and Ice Cream Soda. I don't think the ice cream is Brigham's any more, sadly, but it is still very good and fresh. I go there often.