To make an egg cream is to take a stand. Not a stand in favor of refreshing, chocolaty drinks–everyone is in favor of that. An egg cream is such a drink, but it’s also an embodiment of the kind of endless argument that Jews love to engage in. Chocolate syrup first? Milk first? What proportions? Is the brand of chocolate syrup important?
If you’ve never had an egg cream, I can tell you two things. First of all, it’s a drink consisting of a little chocolate syrup and milk and a lot of seltzer. Second, my way of making it is the correct way. Just kidding. I basically bumbled through it based on egg creams I’ve had at newsstands in the past. But mine is definitely a good way.
I am not doctrinaire about the ingredients. I do prefer whole milk, but I use store-brand chocolate syrup, not Fox’s U-Bet, and sometimes I use club soda instead of seltzer. If you haven’t had one of these before, do give it a try, but don’t think about milkshakes or ice cream sodas while you drink it. This is their svelte cousin.
Have all your ingredients in the fridge. A warm egg cream is a bad, bad drink. Get a 12-oz pint glass or other tall glass. Pour in about an inch of milk. Add a five-second squirt of chocolate syrup (this will feel like a lot) and stir well to combine. (Basically you’re making chocolate milk that’s half syrup. Don’t you wish you could have gotten away with this when you were a kid?) Stir vigorously with a spoon while adding the seltzer, until the creamy head reaches nearly the top of the glass. It’ll probably bubble over the first couple of times you do this.
Here’s the most important part. You have to drink your egg cream with a straw, and you have to keep the bottom of the straw at the liquid-foam interface so you’re sucking up equal parts liquid and foam as you drink. Neither the liquid nor the foam is very interesting by itself. It’s the synergy that makes this a special beverage.
After you finish drinking the egg cream, a bunch of people will show up at your door for the discussion period.
Update 11 May 2008: I no longer use store-brand chocolate syrup for egg creams. I make my own, from Alice Medrich’s recipe.