The cocktail: Windsor Egg Cream
Where to order it: Poka Lola Social Club at The Maven, 1850 Wazee St.
Why we love it: I didn’t grow up drinking egg creams or hanging out at the nearest soda fountain. But ever since I became savvy to this delightful side of life I missed, I wish I had. So it was, perhaps, a strong dose of fate when I sat down at the counter of Poka Lola, located in downtown’s new Dairy Block, and fixed my gaze first upon the modern interpretations of diner-like surroundings—black and white floors, a white-topped bar with aluminum trim and vintage glassware—and, second, on the Windsor Egg Cream under the “Fountain Drinks” section of the menu.
The brainchild of Brandon Wise, Sage Restaurant Group’s beverage director, Poka Lola is a 1950s-style craft cocktail bar that is very much inspired by American soda fountain culture. You’ll see the inspiration in much of the décor and vibe, as well as in the menu. “We took our menu from two different angles,” Wise says. “For the fountain drinks, we started with a traditional fountain drink and took it towards cocktails. For the fancy drinks, we took a classic cocktail build and brought it a little closer to the mid-century fountain approach.”
As I went for my first sip of the egg cream, I anticipated what each flavor component would taste like, and I was not disappointed. It was light. It was slightly sweet and pleasantly bitter. It tasted like a thin mint!
The Fernet Branca, the bitter herbal liqueur Wise added as his twist on the classic, pairs perfectly with the seltzer water. The carbonation keeps every sip airy and just as you swallow you get a delicious taste of the chocolate and mint. My favorite part: The more it sat, the more I could taste the mint.
Is it really that good? On a warm summer day when you’re looking to go down memory lane, try it and see.
Mix it at home:
1 ounce Fernet Branca
1 ounce Fox’s U-Bet chocolate syrup
1 ounce heavy cream
Mint for garnish (optional)
Mix the first three ingredients in a fountain glass, top with seltzer and garnish with mint.
What to pair it with: “My favorite pairing would be a greasy cheeseburger, like one you’d find at a diner in middle America,” Wise says. “We make a Detroit-style Coney island dog which is my ‘guilty pleasure’ alongside the Windsor Egg Cream.”