My New York: The Proper Chocolate Egg Cream

We all have our own New York. The New York of our youth, or the one we’ve adopted. The one we love or the one we hate. You’re welcome to yours, but my New York is the real New York (note the New York attitude). From time to time I’ll deign to share some of my New York with you.

My New York: The Egg Cream

Also known as the Chocolate Egg Cream, it contains neither egg nor cream (“tawk amongst yerselves”), and is proffered as the quintessential NYC beverage. It is also the one whose simple recipe is most often passed along as gospel — incorrectly.

The ingredients are simple: milk, chocolate syrup (more on that later) and seltzer (ditto). The trick is in the execution.

First up, the ingredients:

  • Milk (whole milk, please, as close to the kind the milk man used to deliver to our doorstep left in those utilitarian metal boxes)
  • Chocolate syrup: You want a real NY Egg Cream? Fox’s U-Bet syrup is what you need. No, it’s not the best on the market, it’s a bit runny and has an inconsistent texture at times, but we’re talkin’ real Lower East Side Egg Creams here — not some fancy white-bread suburban version.
  • Seltzer. Yes, Seltzer. Not Club Soda. Not Perrier or club soda or even Pelligrino =:o Seltzer (preferably in the fountain-head bottle)

The big mistake people make (and others swear by) is in the order of the ingredients. They typically say (yes, even the “experts”): Milk, syrup, seltzer and then stir. No. No, no, no, no! This does not produce an egg cream! It produces a chocolate soda with milk – blech!

Now, the correct method:

Milk (about a 1/2 inch of the glass)

Seltzer, until about an inch from the top of the glass

The carbonation will cause a white creamy head to rise to the top (leave the spoon in the glass!)

Then, carefully, slowly, with precision, pour the Fox’s U-Bet into the glass – pour it just inside the edge of the glass; do not disturb the creamy white head!

Slowly stir the syrup in the milk, causing the bottom section of the drink to be brown, while maintaining the creamy white foamy head on top.

You see, it’s all about the head. It needs to be fluffy and white — reminiscent of meringue created from beaten egg whites (hence the egg reference).

Note: Even Fox’s recipe for an egg cream on its web site is wrong. It emphasizes the chocolate (as we say in French, ‘Quelle surprise’) and not the cream.

If you are ever offered an egg cream and the head is an everything-mixed-together sticky-brown — throw it in the face of the one who committed the blasphemous act of giving it to you.

Tell ’em Ron, from New York city, says “Hi”

About Ron Casalotti
I am part of that lucky generation that started out when watching TV meant choosing from three networks, three independents and PBS. Now, I work in new (social) media for businesses and organizations - but these thoughts are my own.

6 Responses to My New York: The Proper Chocolate Egg Cream

  1. Nancie says:

    Wow… I remember my father trying to tell me what an Egg Cream was (he was a soda jerk at Dennis’ on Coney Island Avenue in the 40’s). I think I was about four at the me. Besides making me feel young again, you gave me a recipe to make for him. I thank you. He will, too. th


  2. Pingback: A Nice Cuppa - » We Scream for Chocolate Egg Creams

  3. weeknightingale says:

    I craved that drink when I was pregnant with my son. Most refreshing soothing drink! Thanks for the memory!
    As Alice said:
    “…if I don’t make haste, I shall have to go back through the looking-glass…back into the old room-and there’d be an end of all my adventures!”
    Sending my ‘curiouser & curiouser’ thoughts through the looking-glass.


  4. This entry looks good. Thank you!


  5. Amy Milford says:

    I love your architectural rendering of the perfect egg cream! We are having our Egg Roll & Egg Cream festival on Sunday, June 12, here at the Museum at Eldridge Street and I was wondering if I could share the drawing with our Facebook and on-line community. We will credit you, of course!


    • Absolutely! One of my fondest memories as a kid was to order a chocolate egg cream at the local “coffee shop” or making one at my Grandmother’s house in Brooklyn (because she used to get seltzer delivered in the siphon bottles).

      I even shipped a large bottle of seltzer (to make sure they didn’t use club soda!) and a jar of Fox’s U-Bet (with the detailed instructions of course) to a friend in Columbus, Ohio once to spread the Egg Cream joy.

      Have a great festival, or as we simply said in the neighborhood, enjoy!


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