I Scream, You Scream, for Egg Cream: 3 Recipes to Celebrate National Egg Cream Day

Today’s holiday is of national scope, but make no doubt about its city of origin. Here are three egg creams you can make at home in honor of this New York soda fountain staple.

brooklynfarmacy

Credit: Michael Harlan Turkell

Today is National Egg Cream Day, and while the beginnings of this soda fountain staple are hotly debated, there’s one tale that paints the drink’s founders as quite the savvy marketers. In lieu of cream (its required refrigeration deemed it difficult to source in the early 1900s), the owners of one Lower East Side soda fountain developed the next best ingredient: a whipped egg white that would top the chocolate sodas and act as an impromptu dairy alternative.

When storefront signs went up boasting the word “cream,” so did their sales.

“Of all the stories I’ve read, that one makes the most sense because it has the financial support,” explains Peter Freeman, who, with his sister Gia Giasullo, opened soda fountain revival Brooklyn Farmacy in June 2010 and will be debuting their first cookbook, The Soda Fountain, this May.

The drink’s evolution is as obscure as its origins, but Freeman tributes the advent of post-World War II shipping advances to the abandonment of the egg and the incorporation of milk — giving way to an even more basic iteration of the straw sipper. “One of the beautiful things about the egg cream is that it’s just milk, seltzer and syrup — no more, no less,” says Freeman. “It can stand for how simple good things can be.”

And while today’s holiday is of national scope, make no doubt about its city of origin. “This is a real New York thing,” notes Freeman. “You can talk about seltzer and sundaes and talk about Chicago and Philadelphia, but if you want to talk about egg creams, we’re talking about New York City — nowhere else.”

We’ll drink to that.

Make your own at home with this classic recipe from the Edible Brooklyn cookbook, or try these two variations:

Coffee Egg Cream
“We couldn’t take ourselves seriously if we didn’t add our own take on the traditional egg cream with the syrups we make in our own kitchen. A ‘real egg cream’ uses Fox’s U-Bet, a point we wouldn’t dream of arguing. That said, the Coffee Egg Cream was our first break from tradition. And by gosh, it’s good.” — Peter Freeman and Gia Giasullo

Ingredients:
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons (3 ounces) cold whole milk
¾ cup (6 ounces) cold plain seltzer
¼ cup (2 ounces) Coffee syrup*

Directions:
Pour the milk into an egg cream glass and add seltzer until froth comes up to the top of the glass. Pour the syrup into the center of the glass and then gently push the back of a spoon into the center of the drink. Rock the spoon back and froth, keeping most of the action at the bottom of the glass, to incorporate the syrup without wrecking the froth. Serve immediately.

*In The Soda Fountain, the authors share their recipe for Coffee Syrup. Coffee Syrup can also be purchased online and in specialty food stores.

Dairy Free Maple Egg Cream

“Having spent part of our childhood in the backwoods of Maine, maple syrup was our sugar. It seemed only natural to find a way to include this astounding gift from nature on our menu. At the Farmacy, we use maple syrup from Rockwall Maple Farm, made in Maine by our former elementary school teachers, the Hamiltons.”  —Peter Freeman and Gia Giasullo

Ingredients:
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons (3 ounces) cold almond milk
¾ cup (6 ounces) cold plain seltzer
3 tablespoons (1½) ounces pure maple syrup

Directions:
Pour the milk into an egg cream glass and add seltzer until froth comes up to the top of the glass. Pour the syrup into the center of the glass and then gently push the back of a spoon into the center of the drink. Rock the spoon back and froth, keeping most of the action at the bottom of the glass, to incorporate the syrup without wrecking the froth. Serve immediately.

Reprinted with permission from The Soda Fountain by Gia Giasullo and Peter Freeman, © 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc. Photography © 2014 by Michael Harlan Turkell

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