May 102012

For that professional soda fountain look, invest in a soda siphon and make your own seltzer (via Wikipedia Commons).

While having lunch at Skinflints [7902 5th Ave] this past Saturday, after not eating there in several years, I came face to face with my nostalgic side.

I couldn’t help but get nostalgic about the old ice cream parlor-turned restaurant’s dark, ornamented Victorian era interior with its old brass light fixtures and french doors.

Nostalgia is what often binds us to the past in a sort of primal homesickness. According to Wikipedia, the word’s origins arise from the Greek words νόστος (nóstos), meaning “homecoming” and ἄλγος (álgos), meaning “pain” or “ache”.

Pleasant, yet melancholy remembrances can consist of collective memories in the public record, personal thoughts, or a combination of both. It’s what drives people to collect antiques, fix up old houses, visit historic cities and Civil War battle sites, as well as the house we used to live in, the playground we used to play in, the spot of sidewalk we had our first kiss on, etc.

Which brings us back to Skinflints and its awesome wooden interior – which resides in good company with other awesome things – like food, really, really awesome bar food.

After having one of their ever-so-juicy burgers on an English muffin, the thought struck me that owner Gerard Bell must have a hankering for the past as well. I mean, why else would he, along with Roger Desmond, go to the trouble of saving Hinsch’s [8518 5th Avenue], which has produced a New York staple – the egg cream, since 1948 [and was a similar establishment with the name Reichert’s Ice Cream Parlor since 1915]?

After neighbors feared the end of a neighborhood fixture, Desmond and Bell dropped in to save the day – choosing to completely preserve the past in this case by keeping Hinsch’s luncheonette/ soda fountain vibe going – instead of turning it into a full-blown restaurant with a liquor license like Skinflints.

In the end, it’s a tough choice for me -would I rather have booze or a classic egg cream? But then I recall how a wise man once told me, that’s what you call a good problem.

And Speaking of Egg Creams…

There are others, like Delicious Tuesday’s Amy Bandolik, who have gone further than I in the pursuit of perfecting their egg cream skills, but still – I’m no slouch.

I do know that – in lieu of a soda gun – you’ll need a soda siphon to achieve that nice foamy top you get at the lunch counter. And while Amy’s piece might say different re: the order of ingredients, I do try to faithfully follow the instructions on the back of the U Bet syrup bottle:

In a straight glass [a "Coke" style glass is fine] first add 1 inch of syrup [I prefer vanilla myself], followed by 1 1/2 inches milk. And for the big finale, place a long tea spoon over the liquid in your glass, and add the seltzer by shooting it into the spoon, letting it overflow into the glass below. I usually fill it almost to the top, then give the concoction a rapid, soda fountain style mix. I then top it off with the seltzer, quickly giving the egg cream a few final stirs.

You may have to adjust the amounts based on your personal taste and the size of the glass, but the proportions should – like your sweet, wistful memories – remain more or less the same.

  • kp

    Wait… you knowingly didn’t eat at Skinflints for a couple years? Suspect in itself!

    • Joe Teutonico

      I probably should have been more explicit. For the record, I’ve always loved Skinflints. It was really just a matter of me not living anywhere near Skinflints for years. Trust me, I will be returning very soon!