Galco’s Old World Grocery is one of York Boulevard’s oldest businesses, and its staying power isn’t a mystery. The Highland Park shop sell a million different types of soda—okay actually about 500—from all over the world, old-timey candies and even a nice selection of beer. Plus, a soundtrack of 1950s malt shop hits is always playing in the background. Now there’s yet another reason to go: they let you mix and bottle your own soda with their Soda Creation Station, a simple, but genius set up comprised of a soda fountain, flavored syrups and a bottling contraption.
Galco’s didn’t skimp on quality for this venture. Owner John Nese told me he deliberated a long time at every step, including choosing Monin syrups, a high-quality (for example, the vanilla is made with, you know, real vanilla) French brand that uses pure cane sugar to create well-balanced, authentic flavors. Eighty varieties, running the gamut from the traditional cola, cherry, and lemon to the more exotic pumpkin pie and chipotle-pineapple, are kept on hand. At least 8 pumps are suggested, which was a little too sweet for me, but for most people, it seems to do the trick.
Once the syrup is in check, finding the right carbonation level is key. Taking into consideration that some like their soda sharp while others perfer it a little more low key, the machine dispensed the spectrum of bubbles, light to heavy. I chose heavy carbonation and wasn’t disappointed. Even a week later, the bottles I took home were still nice and fizzy.
When all is poured and mixed, you get to cap your own bottle, which is a fun perk among fun perks. The antique metal bottler has a lever that you push down on, and voilà, you’ve bottled and capped your very own soda. My result was a very delicious dark-chocolate-cherry combo along with an imitation Fago Rock & Rye for my Midwestern husband. With all those flavors, I was tempted to experiment and make a bunch more, but as a soda fanatic, I couldn’t be trusted to have too many in the house. I can’t wait to have a party, though, so I can go down to Galco’s and bottle my own mixers.
Each bottle is $2.99 and well worth it.
Galco’s Old World Grocery
5702 York Boulevard
Los Angeles, 90042
Valentina Silva writes about food and restaurants. You can also find Valentina’s reviews and stories on her blog, Eastside Food Bites.