The popularity of soda fountains is gaining momentum in the 21st century. As soda aficionados are whipping, blending and fizzing soda creations with intricate attention to detail, savvy customers are learning the lingo and are ordering up fizzes, rickeys and double awfuls. And with the rise of this formerly forgotten culinary art form, is a new menu opportunity for food service businesses.
Could your restaurant, café, food truck or bar benefit from offering hand-crafted house-made sodas?
In a New York Times article titled, “For Soda, the Genie is Out of the Bottle
,” the art of creating a modern soda with old-fashioned methods is highlighted. Sure the establishments covered in this piece are full-on dedicated soda counters, but the ideas can be implemented without all the added nostalgic flair. If you are looking for a new food service idea, implementing some of these soda creations into your menu may just fill an overlooked void in beverage options. Putting creative sodas on the menu can spike profits and provides your customers with something new and apart from the ordinary selection of Pepsi, Coke and other well-known soda labels.
So what are these soda fountains offering that has people coming back for more? The most successful soda fountains are preparing syrups made from scratch with ingredients like freshly pressed or squeezed fruits, pure cane sugar, herbs, spices, bitters and phosphates.
Getting your home-made sodas from concept to countertop takes some planning and setting up. To get started, take a look at the overall equipment you will need to put home-made sodas on the menu. According to the article in the Times, “… a true soda fountain must have a carbonator and taps. Not the soda gun seen behind bars, not the mixers provided by companies like Coca-Cola and Pepsi and definitely not the two-liter bottles of club soda amateurs rely on. None provide the crisply popping, lively bubbles that fanatics consider essential.” [Source
For the full effect, the basic big equipment pieces will include having or installing a counter with a seating area as well as installing a carbonator and soda taps.
But for a smaller concept that is adding on soda fountain inspired items to an existing menu, the counter isn’t necessary. Here are six easy elements to get your house-made specialty soda program going:
- A soda siphon can be used in place of installing a carbonator and taps. The siphon operates simply by using a CO2 charger, soda tablet and water. The carbonated water is then dispensed through the siphon and into a glass with the homemade syrup mixture. From there, all you have to do is stir it up and serve.
- A syrup pump is most known as a coffee house staple, but it is perfect for storing and dispensing home-made soda syrups.
- A syrup rack is handy for keeping everything organized, especially if you are using coffee syrups in place of creating your own.
- Bar spoons have long handles that are perfect for stirring up recipes in narrow soda glasses.
- Soda glasses add to the final flourish for presentation. Available in old-fashioned and modern designs with a variety of sizes, these glasses are sturdy and built to hold carbonation longer than standard glasses.
- Speed rails offer organization for your soda making station. Typically utilized by baristas and bartenders, these pocketed metal shelves assist in keeping speedy service and functional order for all your soda ingredients. Learn more about Choosing a Speed Rail
Find inspiration in a trend that is 150 years strong. Start with introducing a small selection of two or three hand-crafted sodas and review your sales before launching a larger scaled soda menu. Rotate new ideas in on a weekly or monthly basis and control your food costs while experimenting with new ideas. Offer your customers something fun and fizzy and try making sodas in your restaurant.