Fizzy in Phoenix: Where to Find the Best Soda Fountain Brews in the Valley
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Image by Steve Buissine from Pixabay
Where did you go, Shirley Temple?
For decades, a summer treat for those with a sweet tooth has been a trip to the local soda fountain for a syrupy preparation with distinctive nicknames that honored celebrities of the time such as Shirley Temple and Roy Rogers. Traditionally, soda fountains were located at a local pharmacy, department store, or five-and-a-half center that flourished for two decades after World War II. Many grew up at lunch tables or ice cream parlors. Over time, the decline of drug stores and more commercial restaurants resulted in a decline in soda fountains across the country.
For those looking for an authentic soda fountain experience in Phoenix, there aren’t many options left. MacAlpine’s Diner & Soda Fountain (2303 N. 7th Street) in downtown Phoenix, which has been the valley’s only authentic soda fountain for a while, is currently closed but is slated to reopen soon, according to its website. Still, we’ve spotted a few up and coming stores that have the feel – and taste – of bygone soda fountain days. Here are 7 bubbly concoctions to keep you cool this summer.
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The Shirley Temple in Sodalicious
The Shirley Temple is alive and well at each of Sodalicious’ four Arizona locations. You can get a traditional Shirley Temple – 7-Up and Grenadine with a maraschino cherry – or a Blue Shirley Temple with 7-Up, cotton candy flavor and a cherry. For Coca-Cola fans, I Love Lucy is a delicious mix with cranberry and raspberry.
Among the more experimental drinks at Sodalicious is the El Doctoro, a unique blend of Dr. Pepper and Horchata. The Chai Me is a mix of Diet Coke, semi-strength Chai spice and sugar-free coconut that is lower in calories than most of the drinks on the menu. Similarly, the Mocha Diet Coca made from Diet Coke, Sugar-Free Coffee, Sugar-Free Coconut, and Half & Half offers a more subdued sugar frenzy.
Sodalicious is located at Gilbert, 1245 N Gilbert Rd. And at 20850 E Heritage Loop Road. in Queen Creek. There is also a store at 2333 S. Val Vista Drive in Val Vista and a fourth location south of town at 1904 W. Thatcher Blvd. in Stafford.
The Lime Rickey on Twisted Sugar
Twisted Sugar in Gilbert is the place to buy another old-fashioned fountain favorite: the Lime Rickey. A Lime Rickey is 7-Up or Sprite mixed with grape and lime flavors. It is named after Col. Joe Rickey, a Washington lobbyist long ago. It was a popular drink for many years, especially on the east coast. Lightweight and straightforward, with a perfect dash of grape (or cherry) to top it off, it’s been a thirst-quenching summer favorite for generations.
Some of the more modern drinks at Twisted Sugar include Dr. Knievel, a mix of Dr. Pepper, strawberry puree, vanilla, coconut and cream. The Rizzo is a similar blend that Dr. Pepper replaced by root beer. The Pixie is a creamy, fruity drink consisting of cola, peach puree, orange and cream.
Twisted Sugar is located at 884 W. Warner Rd., Suite B9, Gilbert, and Agritopia, 1440 S Higley Rd., Suite 104, in Gilbert.
Caribbean Cola at Bahama Bucks
When you need a cool drink to beat the heat, getting to one of the 14 Bahama Bucks locations in the Valley isn’t hard. The shop, called the “Original Shaved Ice Company,” also makes some refreshing Bahama Sodas for a taste of the islands.
When you need to recharge your batteries after a long day of shopping or need a boost in the afternoon at work, a Bahamian soda can be the answer. The Caribbean Cola is a chilling combination of classic Coca-Cola, rich vanilla, and tropical cream, while the Costa Colada is a satisfying mix of Sprite, Pina Colada, and tropical cream.
Aloha at Soda Rush (Gilbert and Mesa)
Welcome the summer with the Aloha, a wonderful mix of half lemonade and half Sierra Mist soda with aromas of guava, peach and raspberry. The refreshing drink is a delicious blend of fruit flavors that won’t overwhelm the taste buds. Light and refreshing, perfect for summer.
For an island vibe, try the Emerald City, a mix of Mountain Dew, Passion Fruit, Blue Curacao, and Pina Colada puree. For a more frothy taste, choose Bigfoot, a combination of mug root beer, s’mores, and vanilla cream.
Soda Rush has three locations in the Valley. Two are located at Mesa, 9265 E Baseline Rd. # 104 and 4202 E Main Street, and one is located at Gilbert, 1522 S Gilbert Rd. # 107. The shop is known for its signature sip options and 100+ add-ins that range from old-fashioned favorites like cherry and vanilla to different flavors like blood orange, green apple and cupcake.
Life is a peach at Swig
Swig is home to Dirty Soda, a distinctive blend of sodas, fruit purees, creams, and other flavors. For a sweet summer flavor, try Life’s a Peach, a gentle blend of Dr. Pepper, Vanilla, Peach and Half & Half. Vanilla and peach complement the existing 23 flavors of the soda seamlessly, while the cream removes some acidity. The result is a lighter drink that you might think contains just the right amount of peach.
For a more tropical flavor, try the Dew Gooder, a mix of Mountain Dew, pineapple, fresh lime, raspberry puree, and coconut cream. If you’re looking for a less sugar frenzy, opt for Save Me Jade, a delicious drink from Diet Dr. Pepper, sugar-free vanilla, and sugar-free coconut.
Swig first opened its doors in Utah but is expanding rapidly. There are currently three locations in Arizona, with stores in Greenfield (4311 E. Baseline Road) and San Tan (2919 S. Market St.) in Gilbert, and a third store in Mesa (2010 E. Brown Road).
The father of all bombs at Soda Bomb
Soda Bomb (633 S. Estrella Pkwy, Suite 115, in Goodyear) is a great stopover in the West Valley or en route to or from Estrella Mountain National Park, Skyline Park, or the White Tanks. Just a few blocks from I-10, it’s also an easy pit stop before a long road trip to the west.
Soda Bomb opened its doors in 2020 and has a few signature sodas to go with mix-ins, from pomegranate to pumpkin spice. It also presents five delicious purees that can be added to any lemonade: strawberry, peach, mango, raspberry, and pina colada.
The Father of All Bombs, or FOAB, is a lively combination of Italian lemonade, strawberry, grapefruit and passion fruit. Not to be outdone is the Mother of All Bombs or MOAB, a unique blend of Dr. Pepper (or Diet Dr. Pepper), raspberry puree and coconut cream. The Nuke offers Mountain Dew combined with cherry and vanilla flavors. You can also soften any drink with fresh cream.
Phosphate in MacAlpine’s Diner & Soda Fountain
You can’t beat the original downtown soda fountain for the most authentic Phoenix experience. MacAlpine’s Diner & Soda Fountain at 2303 N. 7th Street has served diners its unique brand of specialty tonics since the 1920s, and stepping into what was once part of a downtown pharmacy is like stepping into them Immerse yourself in the past. There are antiques, vintage clothing, an incomparable ambience … and, according to owner Monica Heizenrader, a friendly ghost.
The fountain’s characteristic phosphate is soda water with the addition of citric acid. From there you can add traditional flavors like cherry, chocolate or lime, or choose from one of MacAlpine’s 99 tangy and refreshing syrups. Other popular fountains include egg creams, Italian sodas, and ice-cream drinks.
MacAlpine’s is temporarily closed, but Heizenrader said it expects to reopen in late August or early September – possibly earlier if staffing needs are met. So keep your fingers crossed that you still have time to enjoy a summer lemonade at Phoenix’s best fountain.