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Break out the bubbly as local restaurants make their own sodas

for The Brooklyn Paper

Fancy-pants cocktails may be the mark of sophistication, but some Brooklyn venues are beginning to take on libations that inspire that warm, fizzy feeling of nostalgia.

Gourmet soda brands like Grown Up Soda and Fizzy-Lizzy have long graced the coolers of Brooklyn’s bodegas, but now locales such as Fort Defiance, Brooklyn Farmacy and the newly opened Tin City Drug & General Store in Bedford-Stuyvesant are dishing out their own variations of the fizzy beverages.

At Tin City, which opened last month, owner Saratu Nafziger wanted to create a well-stocked corner store with an “old-fashioned feel” — so she added a soda fountain.

The sleek interior and organic kombucha lining the shelves don’t exactly spell out “old-fashioned,” but the store’s bubbly beverages have certainly earned it a cast of regulars.

“We wanted a place that truly had the neighborhood-y vibe of an old general store — and we figured everybody loves ice cream and good soda,” said Tim Nafziger, Saratu’s brother, who manages the store. Nafziger crafts sodas from extra-fizzy seltzer on tap and Torani-flavored syrups — some with the addition of Van Leeuwen ice cream. The store’s signature soda is the Brownstone, made with Coca-Cola, chocolate syrup and hazelnut-chocolate ice cream.

Tin City, though, wasn’t the first. The store opened on the heels of Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain, a Cobble Hill general store and fountain that was perhaps the game-changer of the Brooklyn soda-scape, if you will.

At the store’s opening, owner Pete Freeman said it was his dream to make a great egg cream — which he does — along with a host of other great sodas all made from P&H Soda and Syrup’s Brooklyn-made flavorings.

Fizzy, alcohol-less drinkables are now on restaurant menus across the borough. At St. Anselm, the menu features a smattering of sodas, homemade with Fee Brother’s syrups. Park Slope’s Thistle Hill Tavern introduced a puckery, homemade lemon soda to its menu. And at Fort Defiance, mixologist-owner St. John Frizell was not contented with the idea of merely making the sodas himself. He undertook making the syrups as well for sodas like the café’s gingerade.

So is this the soda revolution? We might not be ready to give up our G&T’s yet, but we’ll certainly give them a night off.

“Anywhere you can grab a cola and go,” said Nafziger, “but good soda — that’s something to talk about.”

Fort Defiance [365 Van Brunt St. at Dikeman Street in Red Hook, (347) 453-6672]; St. Anselm [361 Metropolitan Ave. at Havemeyer Street in Williamsburg, (718) 384-5054]; Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain [513 Henry St. at Sackett Street in Cobble Hill, (718) 522-6260]; Tin City Drug & General Store [66 Lewis Ave., between Macon and Halsey streets in Bed-Stuy, (718) 443-4141]; Thistle Hill Tavern [441 Seventh Ave. at 15th Street in Park Slope, (347) 599-1262].

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