The Classic Egg Cream Goes Creative

Where you can find updated versions of this soda fountain staple

Any New Yorker knows that an egg cream contains neither egg nor cream—except that's not totally true anymore.

Traditionally made from seltzer, chocolate syrup and milk, with a lusciously thick and creamy head of foam created from enthusiastic stirring, the original soda fountain-style drink has been popular in New York since 1900. But the egg cream is ultra trendy yet again, migrating across the country and shedding its New York accent—while gaining all sorts of other twists—as it evolves.

① Cowgirl Creamery Sidekick (San Francisco)

The egg cream gets a decidedly California makeover at Cowgirl Creamery Sidekick café and milk bar. The drink starts with syrup made from Recchiuti chocolate—rather than the traditional Fox's U-bet—and is finished with Straus organic milk. And although owners Sue Conley and Peggy Smith seem to agree on the recipes for the chocolate and vanilla egg creams, which are both featured in their Cowgirl Creamery Cooks cookbook, they diverge on methodology. Conley loves the fact that the drink is light and refreshing—not thick and heavy, as its name implies—and is a proponent of stirring vigorously. Smith uses a cocktail shaker, ensuring thrills—and possibly spills.

② Poka Lola Social Club (Denver)

Poka Lola Social Club, the hip lobby bar at The Maven hotel that blends the vibes of a swank cocktail lounge with an old-school soda fountain, serves up a house egg cream inspired by the childhood favorite of beverage director Brandon Wise, whose mom and uncle worked at soda fountains. Today, his creation has a boozy bent thanks to fernet, a popular nightcap among bartenders in Portland, Oregon, where Wise once worked. An egg white adds richness and texture; bittersweet house-made chocolate sauce, a satisfying sweetness. All in, it's like the liquid equivalent of a Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookie.

③ Buffalo & Bergen (Washington, D.C.)

Gina Chersevani's soda fountain is named for the Brooklyn intersection where her mother grew up and takes cues from the soda shop where she and her cousins would get egg creams as kids. Every element of the drink she serves today, which comes in chocolate, vanilla and Nutella versions, has been carefully considered, from the seltzer (which Chersevani makes in-house, replicating New York tap water with a special triple-filtration system that softens the water and removes the chemical flavor) to the homemade chocolate syrup, which incorporates cocoa, canela cinnamon and chile powder. Trickling Springs Creamery cream stands in for milk, making the drink even richer than the original. Looking to take it up a notch? Not a problem; Chersevani welcomes you to add a shot of booze or any syrup you like—just don't tell a New Yorker.