Photo by Petrified Collection via Getty Images

Make the classic soda fountain drink for breakfast

Rebecca Firkser
August 10, 2018

I’m not the biggest fan of iced coffee. Sure, when we accidentally created a cold brew soda in the office I was into it, but cold coffee generally doesn’t do it for me. When the weather gets hot, I get an egg cream.

No, it’s not your grandpa talking; it’s me, a millennial, who also happens to love the classic soda fountain drink made of milk, chocolate syrup, and seltzer. The origin story of the egg cream remains a mystery. The frothy drink may have been born in Brooklyn, but others swear it originated on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. One thing is known for sure: The tradition of American egg creams was started somewhere in New York by Jewish immigrants in the late 1800s.

As you may have ascertained by now, egg creams contain neither eggs nor cream. “An egg cream is a perfect combination of refreshingly frosty cold milk and bubbly seltzer, with just enough chocolatey sweetness,” Selwyn Chan, Operating Partner at New York's Nickel & Diner, told me in an email. “It's a great change of pace from having an iced coffee during breakfast or brunch, particularly if you're looking for something caffeine-free.”

When I asked Chan how they would make an egg cream at Nickel & Diner, which was created in the image of classic lunch counters, I was given a recipe the team calls “a contemporary twist” on the classic. “For our take, we use a barista blend almond milk, rather than dairy milk,” Chan said. In all honesty, I find that thick almond milk (they use Califia’s version) actually works really well with the soda water—sometimes when I think too hard about dairy mixed with fizzy water I start to get a bit queasy, and this immediately solved the problem.

There’s one thing about the classic drink that the Nickel & Diner team would never think to change: Fox's U-Bet chocolate syrup. Though you could use any chocolate syrup you have on hand in a pinch, some would argue that it’s not a real egg cream unless Fox’s U-Bet is involved. Founded in Brooklyn in 1900, Fox’s U-Bet is made with real cocoa powder, not chocolate flavoring, which makes each egg cream it touches deeply chocolatey.

Nickel & Diner’s Contemporary Egg Cream


3 ounces Califia Barista Blend Almondmilk, chilled cold
fresh seltzer, chilled cold
3 tablespoons Fox's U-Bet chocolate syrup


Step 1: Pour the almond milk into a tall chilled glass and add seltzer until the froth reaches the top of the glass.
Step 2: Gently pour the chocolate syrup into the glass and then use a tall bar spoon to incorporate the syrup into the milk with a rocking motion, rather than a stirring motion, trying not to disturb the white froth at the top.

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