Where have you gone, Shirley Temple?
For decades, a summertime joy for anyone with a sweet tooth was a trip to the local soda fountain for a syrupy concoction with distinctive monikers that honored celebrities of the times like Shirley Temple and Roy Rogers. Traditionally, soda fountains were inside a local pharmacy, department store, or five-and-dime, flourishing for two decades after World War II. Many grew to become lunch counters or ice cream parlors. Over time, the decline of drug stores and more commercial dining choices led to a reduction in soda fountains around the country.
For those seeking an authentic soda fountain experience in Phoenix, there aren't a lot of 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 now, is currently closed, though it plans to reopen soon, according to its website. Still, we've uncovered a few emerging shops that have the throwback feel —and tastes — of soda fountain days gone by. Here are 7 fizzy concoctions to keep you cool this summer.
The Shirley Temple at Sodalicious
The Shirley Temple is alive and well at any of Sodalicious’s four Arizona locations. You can get a traditional Shirley Temple – 7-Up and grenadine topped with a maraschino cherry – or a Blue Shirley Temple with 7-Up, cotton candy flavoring, and a cherry. For Coca-Cola fans, the I Love Lucy is a tasty mix with cranberry and raspberry blended in.
More experimental drinks at Sodalicious include the El Doctoro, a unique mix of Dr. Pepper and horchata. The Chai Me is a concoction of Diet Coke, half-strength chai spice, and sugar-free coconut that has fewer calories than most drinks on the menu. Similarly, the Mocha Diet Coca of diet cola, sugar-free coffee, sugar-free coconut, and Half & Half offers a more subdued sugar rush.
Sodalicious is located in Gilbert at 1245 N Gilbert Rd. and at 20850 E Heritage Loop Rd. in Queen Creek. There is also a shop at 2333 S. Val Vista Drive in Val Vista and a fourth location south of the city at 1904 W. Thatcher Blvd. in Stafford.
The Lime Rickey at Twisted Sugar
Twisted Sugar in Gilbert is the spot to get 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 from long ago. It was a popular drink for many years, especially on the East Coast. Light and easy, with a perfect splash of grape (or cherry) to top it off, it's been a thirst-quenching summer favorite for generations.
More contemporary beverages at Twisted Sugar include the Dr. Knievel, a mix of Dr. Pepper, strawberry puree, vanilla, coconut, and cream. The Rizzo is a similar mix, substituting root beer for Dr. Pepper. The Pixie is a smooth, fruity drink consisting of Coke, peach puree, orange and cream.
Twisted Sugar is located at 884 W. Warner Rd., Suite B9, in Gilbert, and at Agritopia, 1440 S Higley Rd., Suite 104, in Gilbert.
Caribbean Cola at Bahama Bucks
If you need a cool drink to beat the heat, it’s not difficult to get to one of Bahama Bucks' 14 locations in the Valley. The shop, which calls itself the "Original Shaved Ice Company," also makes a few refreshing Bahama Sodas for a taste of the islands.
If you need to energize after a full day of shopping, or need an afternoon boost at work, a Bahama Soda may be the answer. The Caribbean Cola is a quenching combination of classic Coca-Cola, rich vanilla, and tropic crème, while the Costa Colada is a satisfying mix of Sprite, pina colada, and tropic crème.
Aloha at Soda Rush (Gilbert and Mesa)
Say hello to summer with the Aloha, a wonderful mix of half lemonade and half Sierra Mist soda with guava, peach, and raspberry flavors added in. The refreshing drink is a tasty blend of fruit flavors that isn’t overwhelming on the taste buds. Light and refreshing, it’s perfect for summer.
If you’re looking for an island vibe, try the Emerald City, a mix of Mountain Dew, passion fruit, blue curacao, and pina colada puree. For frothier tastes, go with the Bigfoot, a combination of Mug Root Beer, s’mores, and vanilla cream.
Soda Rush has three locations in the Valley. Two are in Mesa, at 9265 E Baseline Rd. #104 and 4202 E Main Street, and one is in Gilbert, at 1522 S Gilbert Rd. #107. The shop is known for its Signature Sip options and its more than 100 add-ins, ranging from old-fashioned favorites like cherry and vanilla to assorted tastes like blood orange, green apple, and cupcake.
Life’s a Peach at Swig
Swig is the home of the Dirty Soda, a distinctive mix of sodas, fruit purees, creams, and other flavors. For a sweet taste of summer, try Life’s a Peach, a smooth blend of Dr. Pepper, vanilla, peach, and Half & Half. The vanilla and peach complement the soda’s existing 23 flavors seamlessly, while the cream removes a bit of the acidity. The result is a lighter drink that you might think that has just the right amount of peach.
For a more tropical taste, try the Dew Gooder, a mix of Mountain Dew, pineapple, fresh lime, raspberry puree and coconut cream. If you’re looking for less of a sugar rush, opt for the Save Me Jade, a tasty beverage made up of Diet Dr. Pepper, sugar-free vanilla, and sugar-free coconut.
Swig first opened its doors in Utah but is rapidly expanding. There are currently three locations in Arizona, with shops 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) makes for a great stop while out in the west Valley or on your way to or from the Estrella Mountain National Park, Skyline Park, or the White Tanks. Only a few blocks off I-10, it’s also an easy pit stop prior to a long road trip out West.
Soda Bomb opened its doors in 2020 and has a few signature sodas to go along with mix-ins, ranging from pomegranate to pumpkin spice. It also presents five tasty purees that can be added to any soda: strawberry, peach, mango, raspberry, and pina colada.
The Father of All Bombs, or FOAB, is a lively combination of Italian soda, strawberry, grapefruit, and passion fruit. Not to be outdone, the Mother of All Bombs, or MOAB, is a unique concoction of Dr. Pepper (or Diet Dr. Pepper), raspberry puree, and coconut cream. The Nuke features Mountain Dew combined with cherry and vanilla flavors. You can also soften any drink with fresh cream.
Phosphate at MacAlpine’s Diner & Soda Fountain
You can’t beat the original downtown soda fountain for the most authentic experience in Phoenix. MacAlpine’s Diner & Soda Fountain at 2303 N. 7th Street has been serving patrons its unique brand of special tonics since the 1920s, and walking into the place, which was once part of a downtown pharmacy, is like stepping into the past. There are antiques, vintage clothes, a matchless ambiance … and, according to owner Monica Heizenrader, a friendly ghost.
The fountain’s signature Phosphate is soda water with tart, citric acid added to it. From there, you can add traditional flavors like cherry, chocolate, or lime, or pick from one of MacAlpine’s 99 tangy and refreshing syrups. Other fountain favorites include egg creams, Italian sodas, and ice cream drinks.
MacAlpine’s is temporarily closed, but Heizenrader said she expects to reopen in late August or early September – possibly sooner if staffing needs are met. So, fingers crossed, you’ll still have time to enjoy a summer soda at Phoenix’s premier fountain.