The glass bottle-lined shelves of Galco's Soda Pop Stop in Highland Park are well known by Los Angeles' soda connoisseurs. Owner John Nese stocks over 500 well-loved to esoteric flavors from all over the world (most of which are available by mail-order through Galco's website). Last Sunday Galco's hosted its first ever Summer Soda Tasting to benefit the shuttered Southwest Museum.
At the event Nese reveled his own White Rose Cream Soda, a limited edition of 2,500 sodas produced by Pennsylvania-based Natrona Bottling Company. This is the first in a new line of White Rose "Highland Park's Own" sodas, the sales of which will benefit the community of Northeast Los Angeles. The name honors the historic Rose Springs Water and White Rose Soda who bottled their goods steps away from the current location of the Southwest Museum until the late 1960s. The company's blue and white 1930's label was redesigned for the new soda line by local artists Amy Inouye and Julie Keehner.
The lively event included locally renowned entertainer Charles Phoenix, inventor of the Cherpumple. In a neon airbrushed ensemble and pink rhinestone tie, he served up signature "Poptails", including The Southwest, made with Waialua Pineapple soda, Jarritos Mango and Mandarin Orange, plus gummy sharks. He also served The Galco, made from Mr. Q. Cumber and Plantation Style Mint Julep soda, and The Highland Park, which blended Manhattan Special Espresso Soda and Americana Honey Cream soda, and was topped off with whipped cream.
There were many, many sodas to sip, but my favorite find of the event was Fentimens Shandy, a blend of beer and lemonade. This malty and gently sweet lemonade is a perfect summer sipping soda—and with only .5% alcohol content, you can drink it all day long.