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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.