The Brooklyn Farmacy space was pretty dilapidated when Peter Freeman moved into the apartment upstairs. Peter's family is from Queens, New York and when he saw the space used to be a pharmacy called Longo's and noticed some of the old shelves and furniture, the idea to open a new old-fashioned soda fountain sprung to life.
With the help of his sister Gia, who was working as a graphic designer in San Francisco, they opened up Brooklyn Farmacy. But it wasn't that simple. Financial and structural problems almost prevented the dream from becoming a reality.
A third party was instrumental in making it happen. One day when Peter thought he had reached the end of his rope, a woman drove by and asked him for directions. It turns out she was the lead producer for a reality show called Construction Intervention and was looking for their season finale. And in three days with a camera crew in tow, they fixed up the space and brought the soda fountain back to life.
Today you can see Gia and Peter, both proud jerks (soda jerks, that is) working the counter with their young team. And the space is now full of grandparents who are re-living their youths, young children who are discovering the wonder of an ice cream float, and everyone in between. We end our Brownstone Brooklyn tours here and everyone leaves her with a sense of wonder, a smile on their face, and the taste of ice cream on their lips.
You definitely step back in time at Brooklyn Farmacy. This harks back to a time when soda was served alongside pharmaceuticals (soda helps the stomach with digestion) and everyone gathered around the counter for a malted. Soda fountains thrived during Prohibition when alcohol was illegal (a very sad era that we discuss on our Cocktail Tour) and afterwards when teenagers would go on their first date and have a first kiss over a shared root beer float.
Brooklyn Farmacy is bringing that into a modern context with a focus on seasonal local ingredients. Hence the spelling of pharmacy as "farm." They make all their syrups for their sodas and floats from real ingredients. And their ice cream all comes from Adirondack Creamery upstate.
Their giant seasonal sundae concoctions are irresistible with unique toppings like broken pretzel rods, maple syrup, potato chips, or cayenne pepper.
But Peter and Gia have become most famous for bringing back the popularity of the egg cream. If you're not from New York, you probably have no idea what an egg cream is and are probably very surprised to find out it contains no egg and no cream. Egg creams are very simple - just cold milk, seltzer water (from the tap), and Fox's U-Bet chocolate (or vanilla) syrup. This is a refreshing, light drink that is iconic to the Jewish Lower East Side of the early 1900's (an area we explore on our Tenements Tales and Tastes tour) and has never found popularity outside of the city limits. It's something you gotta try when in Brooklyn.
In Carroll Gardens, there are many old businesses and new businesses. Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain is both. It keeps the past joyously alive while also staying relevant and accessible for a younger generation. As this city often loses many of its icons and history due to greedy landlords, Brooklyn Farmacy is keeping traditions alive and bringing the past into the present. And who knew it could be so delicious??
Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain
513 Henry Street
Brooklyn, New York 11231