Gem Spa’s Awning Doesn’t Lie, They Really Do Have New York’s Best Egg Cream

Date May 5, 2010

Gem Spa Vanilla Egg Cream - NYC Food Guy.com

Gem Spa - NYC Food Guy.com

It’s not often you find a place that advertises “New York’s Best” on their awning and actually backs it up.  Gem Spa, the 24-hour newspaper store on the corner of St. Mark’s Place and 2nd Ave. upholds their awning’s claim of serving “New York’s Best Egg Cream.”  With the near extinction of old school coffee shops and lunch counters, Gem Spa’s weathered syrup pumps and brand-less seltzer spout help create a near perfect version of this classic New York soda shop drink of yesteryear.  An egg cream is composed of three ingredients (and egg is not one of them): whole milk, seltzer and chocolate or vanilla syrup.  The key, and this is where Gem Spa excels, is the creation of the sweet, foamy head crowning the drink.  Methods for creating this vary, but one thing remains constant: a vigorous mixing of the core ingredients with a long silver spoon.  Ray, at 24-hour Ray’s Candy Store, on Avenue A and 7th Street, employs a seltzer dispensed over the back of the spoon method prior to mixing.  Gem Spa just goes for the post seltzer mix.  Either way, it’s a simple, refreshing and super sweet drink that reminds us food does not have to be complex to be delicious.

12 Responses to “Gem Spa’s Awning Doesn’t Lie, They Really Do Have New York’s Best Egg Cream”

  1. chris said:

    I pass this all the time and never would’ve known! How much are they?

  2. Niko said:

    I was just discussing the Egg Creams at Veselka – pretty good actually.

  3. The NYC Food Guy said:

    Chris,
    The large cup pictured is $2.50. You gotta check it out. Chocolate is pretty good too but I stick to the vanilla. It goes great with a falafel from Mamoun’s, especially if you load up the on their hot sauce. The egg cream cools it down.

    Niko,
    Veselka’s egg cream has been inconsistent in my experience, great the first time, awful the last two or three times. That and there’s something satisfying about drinking it out of a wax-covered paper cup.

  4. Bill said:

    Hey NYCFG, I’ve been on a one-man chocolate egg cream odyssey for some time now and while there are a lot of places that make egg creams, very few of them get it right. Here’s where I’ve been so far:

    Gem Spa-on the money man. They do a great job with it. I think it’s $1.50 or $2.

    Soda Shop – CLOSED. They mixed it too much and it looked like a thin milkshake and no white foamy head.

    Katz’s-not mixed properly and no white head. Too much chocolate syrup, but they did use Fox’s U-Bet.

    Yonah Schimmels-decent taste and mixture of ingredients but very little white head.
    Lexington Candy Shop-loved it. More expensive than most but mixed properly, good white head and you can sit at the well-worn counter and watch them make it.

    Bubby’s-they were out of chocolate so I opted for a caramel egg cream. No foamy head and not mixed very well. Some sips were all fizz and most of the caramel was at the bottom of the glass.

    Shopsin’s General Store-in true Shopsin’s fashion, I ordered a chocolate, they gave me vanilla and I said thank you! Honestly, the best egg cream and have ever had! Great foamy head and every sip was fizzy, creamy and sweet.

    Sarge’s Deli-another winner. Nice balance of flavors, good head, although the foam fades fast.

    Roxy Coffee Shop-meh. They used canned Schweppes seltzer.
    Stage Restaurant (across from Gem Spa)-ok, use Hershey’s syrup, not much foam.

    I think there may be a few more I have hit but can’t remember at the moment.

  5. Meredith said:

    Ha! I walk by that corner somewhat frequently. I’ve seen the sign, and thought “yeah right!” Maybe I should give it a try…

  6. RyeGirl said:

    You MUST try the Egg Creams at Fort Defiance in Red Hook. Seltzer tap system…awesomeness.

  7. The Marchesa of Mustard said:

    FoodGuy: Ever tested the egg cream at the Lexington Candy Shoppe on the UES? I’m not an egg cream lover myself, but I’d expect an old school, time-warped place like this to deliver a superior one.

  8. donuts4dinner said:

    Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeird. I always pass by that place and scowl at their Kanye-inspired sunglasses, never knowing they were anything more than terrible souvenirs. That’s what makes your blog great.

    I’ve only had one egg cream, and it was awful, but maybe I’ll have to stop in there tonight on my way to Sundaes and Cones.

  9. Dr. Dyspepsia said:

    Can’t believe you all praising a beverage that my 80-something parents still reminisce about. Must have skipped my generation. We all thought it had eggs and cream, and besides, if my parents liked it, it must be bad.

    Food Guy, if you want something “simple and refreshing”, why don’t you try beer? And PLEASE don’t tell you me love Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray soda.

    Doc D.

  10. stevenp said:

    FG does enjoy a good beer (even moreso now that the weather is warmer, I would guess!) As for me, I’m against this whole “egg cream” thing. Call it what it is (a weak chocolate milk soda) but DON’T make it sound like something yummy such as eggnog!

  11. Darwin G said:

    Wow, I literally walk by there all the time. Hell, I thought I was an “expert” on St. Marks, but I always walk by that yellow awning and ignore it.
    Thanks for the heads up. Maybe I’ll stop by after my Baoguette with pan dan soft serve.

  12. Anonymous said:

    best eggcream all of new york

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