Sundaes…soda jerks…ice cream floats. I didn’t get to grow up in a time when soda fountains were a thing, but I’m thankful for establishments like Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Fountain that let me pretend for a little while that I’m living in that charming era where they were the place to be.
Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Fountain is located in what used to be an apothecary store in the 1920s, and the inside still looks very much like an old-timey pharmacy with lots of wooden shelves and cabinets, glass bottles, tiled floors, and tin ceilings. The transformation from closed down drugstore to soda fountain is an interesting one. The owners were busy getting estimates for construction (which were so high that it seemed the project might not be possible by the way) when a lady in a car pulled up outside asking for directions. Turns out, she was a casting director for Discovery Channel’s Construction Intervention. In five days, the production crew repaired and renovated the place, all while taping for TV. When the stars align or what?
Today, stepping into the soda fountain truly feels like stepping into the past. There are stools at the counter where you can sit, eat, and watch the soda jerks (complete with those paper hats) work from their Bastian Blessing soda fountain. There are also tables to sit at on the side, as well as larger back room that can be used for parties–when I went there was an adorable kid’s birthday party going back there plastic swords and all.
The menu changes with the season but you can expect a variety of sandwiches, baked goods, and of course, lots of ice cream concoctions. For the sandwiches, think classic, simple with some more “modern” ingredients. By that I mean there are things like the Triple Lutz, which is a triple decker sandwich with sharp and mild cabot cheddar and Farmacy pesto on Caputo’s mulitgrain, and a Grilled Ham & Cheese, which uses Brooklyn cured smoked maple bourbon ham with a blend of sharp and mild cheddar. See? Nothing crazy but still probably a step up from something you might whip up at home.
And the desserts…there are egg creams, big cookies, whoopie pies, milkshakes, ice cream floats, and sundaes. Lots and lots of sundaes. If you come to Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Fountain and only want to get one thing, get a sundae. It’s what they’re known for, they’re delicious, they’re massive, and there’s nothing like eating a sundae at the counter to really embrace the soda fountain vibe.
Sure, you can make your own with chocolate fudge and sprinkle, but you can also order from one of their fun options. There’s the Spice Cake Sundae with toffee ice cream on top of a warm spice cake, all drizzle with hot caramel and topped with fresh mead spiced whipped cream and crushed pecans. There’s the Makin’ Whoopie with two scoops of vanilla sandwiched between two chocolate whoopie pies, all covered with hot fudge, fresh whipped cream, shaved chocolate, and a cherry. There’s the Affugazi Affogato with a vanilla cake soaked in espresso, topped with vanilla ice cream in a dark chocolate shell and some fresh whipped cream. You get the idea.
I ordered the Kinda Cuban, which is a grilled sandwich with Brooklyn cured smoked maple bourbon ham, Finlandia swiss cheese, Brooklyn Brine pickles, and a side of housemade chipotle mayo, along with the Sir Twixalot sundae (vanilla ice cream with a sprinkle of fleur de sel, covered in caramel and a chocolate hard shell, and surrounded by shortbread biscuit crumbles). Yum and yum.
I liked how the ham was slightly thicker than your normal deli sandwich meat and the crunchy pickles sandwiched inside. Plus I sopped up all the chipotle mayo (in college, chipotle mayo was ALWAYS my go-to dressing for sandwiches). Yes, it was probably a bit much that I got a sandwich and a whole sundae for myself but the two girls next to me and my friend at the counter ordered two sundaes and two ice cream floats to split between them so I think I did okay. I love chocolate hard shell with ice cream because it takes me back to my childhood when I got so excited when my mom bought that instead of normal Hershey’s chocolate syrup because it really was like magic back then. Also, salt + ice cream for me is always a winner.
It was a Sunday when I ate here (ha ha sundae on Sunday), and I saw so many parents bringing in their kids for a little afternoon treat. I love that about this place. I’m sure people who grew up back in the old days, at the height of soda fountain popularity, have tons of memories of hanging out at the place whether they knew someone who worked as a soda jerk or maybe had their first date there. Today, Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Fountain is a call back to that time. From then to now, this is the kind of place where treasured memories are made.
Kinda Cuban, Sir Twixalot
513 Henry St
Brooklyn, NY 11231