Soda Jerk

Do you ever feel somehow lost in your current era?

When I was a teenager, a psychiatrist that I went to made the comment, “Your values are quite old fashioned, as if you belong to an earlier world.”. It rang true, as I felt out of touch with not only my peers, but also the trends of the 80s. I was part of a generation gap, except my generation hadn’t been at the helm since 1938.

It has been a blessing throughout my life, to meet others who, lost or not, find connection in past times and collections of yore. So when Shaners and I heard of an authentic soda shop opening in Cole Valley, it became number one on our agenda. Old fashioned and delicious? Let’s go!

Sarsaparilla, now difficult to purchase due to it’s carcinogenic properties, used to be the main ingredient in real root beer. Nowadays it’s made with artificially flavored syrup.

In the 1800s, tonic drinks were all the rage. Sarsaparilla. Sassafras. Swamp Root. Mix it with sugar and spice, cool it down and bubble it up with soda water. Your root beer float…it’ll cure what ails ya. If it doesn’t kill you first.

But how about Candy Cap mushroom? Acid phosphate? Lactart? Egg cream soda with actual egg? Add a scoop of ice cream? You’ve got moxie, kid!

Moxie was the first carbonated soda sold in the US, and it is still sold in Maine. I used to drink it once every summer, just to reconfirm that it’s positively nasty.

Harking back to a different time, the new Ice Cream Bar has thrown out the snake oil, but has kept some of the tastier medicinal ingredients for their soda fountain. Add to the mix an ice cream counter, with (what has become typical SF) unique flavors, vintage uniforms, big band music, and you have me shaken and stirred. Where’s my spoon?

Upon entry, the hairs stood up on the back of my neck while something tight within me kicked back. Putting up its feet, my heart sighed, “Home”. Look through the door at the hat that fella is wearing. Swoon.

I borrowed this one from the website. Step right up.

I perused the elaborate menu, while Fern clamored for “Cone! Cone!”. She enjoyed a scoop of Honey Buttermilk ice cream while I made tough decisions…Chocolate and Raspberry? Pink Peppercorn and Pineapple? Or Rye Butterscotch with malted cream and blackstrap molasses? Life can be so cruel sometimes.

The soda jerk was a coveted position in department stores in the early twentieth century. A quick google search tells me that they were called jerks for the way they manipulated the handle of the soda dispenser, jerking it forward and back.

I finally decided on a Raspberry Chocolate Crush, while Shane got the “New Orlean’s Hangover”…a float with chicory coffee syrup, golden eagle tincture (sarsaparilla), sweet cream ice cream and soda. He fell in love and I had a bad case of soda envy.

Fern finished her ice cream and began hollering for more. The giant advertisement for sugar was not helping.

The mixologists for the soda bar have included “extinct” ingredients, like the afore mentioned sarsaparilla, as well as “acid phosphate” (gives a citrus zip) and “lactart” (a yogurt-y tang). Their specialties are based on the research in the book, “Fix the Pumps” by Darcy O’Neil. Here’s the full menu, if you would like to wet your whistle with anticipation.

Planning your trip yet? Drop me a line when you go and I’ll join you…I have 12 drinks, 75 tinctures, 24 extracts, 14 syrups and the endless variety of combinations to try. Next up? A “Touch of Grey” — Candy Cap mushroom syrup, acid phosphate, cream and soda.

Next time I need to dress the part too. Jacket, dress, belt and purse — thrifted. Leg warmers (yes, I do wear them every day) –gift. Tights — Target.

Since this post is about delight, here’s a close up of that new-to-me belt.

Just make sure you take your sweetheart with you when you go.

Have a lovely weekend!


14 thoughts on “Soda Jerk

  1. how do you get away with all those accessories. those necklaces would be ripped to shreds if i wore them. you look gorgeous. your posts make me miss SF so so so so so so much. 😦 you are lucky to live there. i grew up right outside there and it was such a gift. i worry about my kids living way out in bumfuck nowhere and not near such a wonderful, diverse place with so much to do.

  2. i live a few blocks away (still!). Been watching them prepare to open and wondering how they planned to do ice cream in the winter. i admit i thought they were goners – it’s all about location location location and they are a little too far down the street. but after seeing their (surprise to me!) concept, i think they may be able to pull this off! sounds like a business i should have thought of first! 🙂

    1. jax, i would love to be a fly on the wall if you ever got a chance to talk to the fella who makes up the drinks. you should bring some of your homemade soda with you when you go!

  3. too cute! i had no idea real soda fountains used all those exotic ingredients and tonics….how fascinating. i worked at screamin’ mimi’s in sebastopol for a year…which felt “old fashioned” to me simply in the fact that all the ice cream was made right there in the shop with no preservatives and good natural ingredients. and believe me, i ate my fair share of it! we were encouraged to sample to our heart’s delight. anyway, this place takes it to a whole level and i love it. reminds me of a carson mccullers story. you are fern are adorable together, what a pair! and your entire outfit rocks.

    1. isn’t it a trip? i’ve always thought, “but why did they ever stop?”. then again, my memory of moxie is reason enough. but i’m so in love with the idea that root beer used to be a spring tonic…that’s worth bringing back!

      and why am i not surprised that you were an ice cream girl? xoxoxo

  4. This post sums it up for me. This is why I stopped by here and stayed. People from a bygone era. That explains myself and my husband. That’s actually one of the first things he told me when we met at age 17. “I think I was supposed to be born in another time.” And I got it. Completely.
    I always tell my husband I’m some strange mix of intuit from long ago, homesteading farmer girl from the 1800’s, and funked out funk-rocker who must have OD’d in my past life 70’s chick. I swear it’s all to do with our past lives and their current influences streaming into this one.
    Anyhow, thanks for the smile you provided in that wonderful post. And now I would love to get over there for a tasting. 🙂

    1. rosie, i’m so enchanted by what your husband told you when you met. so romantic. and i’ve also wondered if it’s past lives all converging in muddled memory in some subconscious place. whatever it is, i’m glad you found me, and vice versa. 🙂

  5. Dudette. For serious? Do you know how often I feel lost amongst folks of my generation? I’m always joke with people that I’m an old lady inside a young body, but what’s interesting is that I get along with people 10-20 years older than myself better than those my age. And THOSE people are old souls or what have you.

    I think this is why I feel drawn to you, and other ladies like Heather and Milla.

    Fern looks so cute, with her little ice cream goatee. I miss the days when we could get away with eating with such messy, wild abandon (though honestly, when I’m just with my family, I occasionally do. Shhh, don’t tell).

    Speaking of cute, let’s talk about you for a moment, hmm? You are one hip mama. I dream about being as wonderfully stylish as you when I have my own little coconut in tow.

    I’ve never seen a lady soda jerk. She’s quite dashing in her uniform!

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