The Ice Cream Bar Is an Adult-Friendly Soda Fountain

Lara Hata
An Ice Cream Bar soda jerk, and the mammoth pistachio milkshake (that's the one on the right).
As long as I can remember, soda fountains -- retro or no -- have been always designated kid-friendly territory. They're for birthday parties and after-school outings, where everyone gets sugared up early enough to crash by 8. 

And there are plenty of kids hanging around the scoops at Cole Valley's Ice Cream Bar -- the subject of this week's full-length restaurant review. But the space, a moody reconstruction of a Deco-era soda fountain, complete with 1930s fountain in back, feels like adult territory, especially after dinner time. Owner Juliet Pries and bartender Russell Davis are resuscitating an older notion of what a soda fountain is: a place where Prohibition-idled bartenders took to shaking up cream and eggs, where the fizzy drinks were once spiked with medicinal tonics such as cocaine and morphine, and where the sodas were made with a very adult level of attention to flavor.

Like the pre-Prohibition cocktails that SF's craft bartenders are reviving, the Ice Cream Bar's neo-fountain sodas are served up with an obsessive detail that borders on the ridiculous. But they can also be -- in the case of this pistachio milkshake, for example, made with imported pistachio syrup and served with a sour-cherry froth on top -- ridiculously good.

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Location Info



The Ice Cream Bar

815 Cole St., San Francisco, CA

Category: Restaurant

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Back in the 1980s, Washington D.C. had a chain of restaurants whose specialty was ice cream with two shots of liquor. It should have caught on everywhere!

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