"James Dean" and "Breakfast at Tiffany's" Ice Cream Sodas at MacAlpine's
James Dean ice cream soda, with extra soda on the side.
The Guilty Pleasure: Ice Cream Soda Where To Get It: MacAlpine's Soda Fountain, 7th Street and Oak How Much It Costs: $3.75 What It Really Costs: Possibly hundreds or thousands more. Depends on how much you like vintage furniture.
I am a shameless fan of all things retro. My closet is crammed with more aloha shirts than I'd care to admit. Keely Smith and Ella Fitzgerald take up an astonishing amount of my iTunes library. My favorite actress by a mile is Audrey Hepburn. And, two of my favorite places in town for a treat have distinct midcentury charm. They are, of course, Mary Coyle and the Sugar Bowl. There is a third vintage option in town for frozen treats, and I love it even more: MacAlpine's Soda Fountain.
MacAlpine's somehow gets less attention than the other two despite being decades older, open since 1928. I know my attention to it was lacking until recently; I can barely count the number of times I'd driven past and said to myself, "Oh, I really should check them out" as I continued on my merry way. Once I finally made a stop, I could only wonder what the hell took me so long.
What MacAlpine's lacks in publicity, they make up in spades with retro charm. Their milkshake machines are mint-green 1940s Hamilton Beach triple-mixer models. Vintage knickknacks abound, so many that the rest of the building around the soda fountain are now retail space for antiques and vintage clothing. They're so retro at MacAlpine's, they're one of the only places in the entire metro Phoenix area where you can get a real, honest-to-goodness, 1930s-style ice cream soda.
At its core, an ice cream soda is a simple concoction. You take the soda of your choice, and add a scoop or two of ice cream. That's it. What makes a MacAlpine's ice cream soda a delight is the staggering choice of soda flavors. Those gee-whiz Coke Freestyle machines dotting town don't hold a candle to this. Standing there on MacAlpine's back counter is a Technicolor wonderland of almost 100 different flavors. You name it, they have it. Cherry? No problem, there are three kinds, six if you count combination flavors like cherry/coconut Tiger's Blood. Seven flavors are based on libations like Mai Tais and Piña Coladas. Or, if you're in an oddball mood, there's dill pickle flavor. No word on how often that last one gets ordered.
I'm always drawn to the Breakfast at Tiffany's flavor like a moth to a flame. What can I say, I'm a Hepburn fan. The soda is a resplendent blue, combining blue raspberry (why is raspberry blue, anyway?) and cake flavors. My real soft spot for ice cream sodas is when they're made from another soda fountain favorite, the phosphate. A couple of dashes of phosphoric acid gives a tongue-tingling tartness that I find irresistible. The wild cherry phosphate James Dean flavor is sheer delight.
Have you been? What's your favorite flavor?
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