Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Soda Fountain (Book Review)

A collection of 70 recipes celebrating the history and stories of the classic American soda fountain from one of the most-celebrated revival soda fountains in the country, Brooklyn Farmacy

That's the official publisher's description of The Soda Fountain, written by siblings Gia Giasullo and Peter Freeman.  I received a review copy of this book, at no cost to me, for review purposes.

When I requested the book, I expected to see a book of recipes.  What I discovered was something even better.  I first noticed the images.  The photographs of the sundaes, especially, made me want to drive immediately to the supermarket for the ingredients to try the recipes.

The first fifty pages or so of The Soda Fountain tell the story of--what else?--the soda fountain.  I found it more interesting than I'd anticipated.  For example, I never knew how Prohibition fostered the popularity of soda fountains.  I also didn't know that "Experts estimate that nineteenth-century Americans drank three times as much liquor as we do today. ... By [one expert's] reckoning, Americans drank night and day, spending a quarter of their household income on the stuff."  By 1885 the city of Atlanta had achieved Prohibition through popular referendum.  No surprise, then, that Atlanta was the birthplace of Coca-Cola, one of the first soft drinks.

This story is told through not only narrative but also historical advertisements and images, including some from trade publications.  Next in the book is a collection of recipes for syrups, from the familiar (vanilla cream, ginger) to the uncommon (hibiscus, New Orleans mead).  Some of the recipes call for ingredients that you might not have on hand, such as dried lavender flowers.  However, the back of the book lists sources for most of the ingredients that are not readily available.

The rest of the book contains recipes for sodas, floats, egg creams, sundaes, milkshakes, toppings, and baked goods (which are used in the sundaes).  Each recipe is clearly explained, all the way down to the optimal dish or glass to use and the size of the ice cream scoop.

The recipes for floats and egg creams could be more concise if the authors provided a basic recipe then simply listed the ingredients for each variation.  Each float, for example, uses nearly exactly--if not exactly--the same technique; the only differences are the flavors of the syrup and ice cream.  However, this is an observation, not a complaint.

Overall, I think this is a fun book with enticing photographs.  It would make a lovely gift if you can keep from drooling all over the pages before you give it to the intended recipient.

Links for more information:

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.


  1. That sounds like a fun book to read and experience. I like how it includes narrative and interesting tidbits. Love your review.

  2. This would be a great gift for a coke fan too :) a bit of history?
    I think it sounds like a great coffee table book...


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