TimeOut New York on the Egg Cream Invitational

TimeOut (read here) provided a great overview with photos of the event.


This egg cream was just crowned as the best at this fierce competition in Brooklyn

You won’t believe where it’s from.

Written by Rossilynne Skena Culgan
Have you ever tried an egg cream? This beloved New York City beverage has been a tradition for more than a century, though fans worry that its history is fading.
To preserve the tradition, dozens of egg cream aficionados gathered today at the Brooklyn Seltzer Museum for the first-ever National Egg Cream Invitational held on National Egg Cream Day. Seven restaurants from New York and Pennsylvania vied for the golden siphon, showing off their potable prowess for a panel of four expert judges.
But only one could win — and sorry, New Yorkers, but the winner isn’t from the five boroughs. The Franklin Fountain, a classic soda shop from Philadelphia, wowed the judges with their unique presentation that included actual egg yolks (an extreme rarity in the egg cream world, despite the beverage’s name).

The rest of the competitors — Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain in Carroll Gardens; Junior’s in Downtown Brooklyn; Juliana’s Pizza in Fulton Ferry District; Egger’s Ice Cream Parlor in Staten Island; S&P Lunch in the Flatiron District; and Lexington Candy Shop on the Upper East Side — each offered their own strategy for making more of a New York-style egg cream.

A man from Lexington Avenue Candy Shop makes an egg cream.
Photograph: By Rossilynne Skena Culgan for Time Out | Lexington Avenue Candy Shop’s entry.

Some started with the chocolate syrup, then the milk, then the seltzer. Others switched up the order. Either way, they all used a long spoon to wildly whisk all the ingredients into a not-too-sweet, perfectly creamy concoction. Many focused on the fizzy head, with the Egger’s team insisting the head must be the length of a thumb.

Despite its title, the egg cream typically doesn’t typically contain egg or cream. For the chocolate, many used the classic Fox’s u-bet chocolate flavored syrup, though others brought their own handmade syrup. As for the milk aspect, some insisted on whole milk, while others employed half and half or heavy cream. The seltzer, of course, was the common element, as they spritzed frosty seltzer from Brooklyn Seltzer Boys siphons.

The Franklin Fountain in Philadelphia took a non-traditional approach, creating a vanilla egg cream with fresh vanilla syrup and actual egg yolks. Finally, they balanced a pretzel atop the foamy head. They clearly impressed the judges with their presentation, which featured old-school recipes from a well-worn book, as well as their unusual take on the drink.

Judges scored the competitors on three criteria: Performance of the showmanship, presentation of how it looked in the glass, and finally taste and feel.

As the competitors proved, performance is key.

“It’s a show, man,” said William McCarthy, general manager at Junior’s Restaurant, as he used the back of a spoon to give the seltzer some extra fizz, then speedily stirred the liquid.

For John Philis, of the 99-year-old Lexington Candy Shop on the Upper East Side, the fizz matters. “That’s part of the charm, getting a little bit on yourself,” he said as the bubbles crested the edge of the glass.

The egg cream dates back to the 1890s when it became a crucial drink of the New York City soda fountain scene. It must be handmade and it must be enjoyed right away. These drinks can’t be bottled.


The winning entry from Franklin Fountain.

Photograph: By Rossilynne Skena Culgan for Time Out | The winning entry from Franklin Fountain.

“The egg cream is a central part of New York City culture and it’s also found around the country and around the world,” said Barry Joseph, author of Seltzertopia, and one of the event organizers.

One of the judges, Gregory Cohen, said he’s traveled the country to taste egg creams. After growing up in Brooklyn, he now lives in Tallahassee, Florida where he founded Lofty Pursuits, a classic soda fountain.

“Every soda foundation in every neighborhood should have the taste of your city, the taste of your childhood growing up in that specific spot,” he says. “This is getting forgotten, but it hasn’t been forgotten.”

Cohen judged alongside Jane August, a social media content creator; Shulamith Bahat, CEO of the American arm of the Tel Aviv-based museum ANU; and Aidan Gomberg, a nine-year-old whose great-great-grandfather started the family seltzer business 70 years ago. His father Alex Gomberg currently runs the business, revolutionizing it to include public events.

As judges sipped and slurped, a seltzer-themed playlist kept spirits lively during the competition with hits like “Egg Cream” by Lou Reed and “Seltzer Saturday” by Trey Kennedy. The venue, Brooklyn Seltzer Museum, is open for fascinating tours each week; book one here.

In addition to the grand prize winner, judges awarded runners up in each category. Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain got top marks for performance; Egger’s Ice Cream Parlor earned accolades for presentation; and Lexington Candy Shop tied with Junior’s for taste.

The egg cream tends to stir up debate — over its name, over whether a straw should be used, and over who makes the best one, of course.

For now, it seems, we have an answer to that question — for this year, at least.