[Photos by ME]
Soda is irreplaceable in bartending and mixology. From cocktails such as the Scotch & Soda, the Gin & Tonic, and the Cuba Libre, to using club soda over ice to chill a cocktail glass, to the omnipresent soda gun, it’d be quite tough to man a bar without soda.
But there is another side to soda — the soda fountain and soda shops. The fountain would serve all types of fanciful carbonated beverages, that we’ve all had and enjoy nostalgic feelings about: root beer, orange soda, Green River, Coca-Cola, Dr. Pepper…the list goes on and on. “Soda jerks” were masters of the pour in their day, and served a clientele aged from 8 to 80.
But this is only the tip of the iceberg, the fizz on top of the proverbial soda. When you add ice cream to the mix, another world was created. The ice cream sundae, with hot fudge, butterscotch, caramel, whipped cream, bananas, chopped peanuts, toasted walnuts, and the cherry on top — enough to make grown men cry. Or at least wipe the side of their mouth.
Soda shops like the one pictured above, Zaharakos Ice Cream Parlor & Museum in Columbus, IN, were all over the country. And their amenities and finishes were top-notch, as seen in the marble fountain, the ornately carved wood backbar, pristine counter, room partition, and pendant lights. But why would grown men come here? The layout of the space, even the brass rails on the bars, the bric-a-brac telling you to “Drink Moonshine” and “Orange Julep”. Why didn’t people just head down to their local watering hole? Ohhhhhh, that’s right….because of….