The soda gun is fully loaded! Finding the freshest fizz at Milk & Honey, Franny’s and Fort Defiance.
A serious cocktail lounge was once simply judged by the quality of its freshly pressed juices. Eventually, house-crafted syrups and homemade bitters came into the picture. Now, as the cocktail movement continues to focus on non-alcohol components (ice cubes, vintage glassware), bars are finding even more ways to give their customers a unique pour. Enter the housemade soda.
Soda is a funny thing. For many bartenders working in this citywide cocktail renaissance, the soda gun became the symbol of all that is wrong. Their answer was to replace the glock’s sugary fizz with fancy bottled versions of all the necessary bubbly mixers.
These days, a new breed of bartender is taking this one step further by making the mixers in-house. Some are starting small—crafting their own syrups to which soda is added. Others are carbonating water themselves for house seltzer. A few rogue drink slingers have even gone back to the old gun system, but transforming it into a way to dispense batches of fresh soda, made on the premises.
We’ve tasted five of the city’s best—from Franny’s homemade tonic to Bar Seven Five’s lavender soda to a distant Coke cousin called Black Tar at Madam Geneva.
By Chantal Martineau; photos by Melissa Hom