John Nese is determined to keep the art of soda pop alive.
Planted on York Boulevard for nearly 60 years, his store, Galco's Old World Grocery, is a staple in the Highland Park community. In addition to 750 kinds of obscure bubbly drinks, it houses a deli, old-school candy and tons of beer. Nese, current owner and member of the Highland Park Trust, took over the shop from his father in 1995.
"We have everything you can't find — if you can find it [elsewhere], we don't carry it," said Nese.
Galco's will host a Great Root Beer Taste-Off from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, where you can sample more than 75 types of root beers, birch beers and sarsaparillas for $15. All proceeds will go to the Southwest Museum.
In the spirit of summer and community, we've put together a list of five unfamiliar but refreshing sodas you can get at Galco's. Click on the audio to hear what Nese has to say about each flavor.
1. Mr. Q.Cumber
The soda's owner presses rose petals and cucumber into a delightfully refreshing taste: "A very light and delicate cucumber taste, something you wouldn't think about drinking," said Nese. Price: $1.69
A sparking, lemonade soda — perfect for summer. Price: $1.59
3. Volcanic Water
In still form, it contains 62 milligrams of magnesium. "It does away with headaches, and makes you happy," Nese claims (not evaluated by the FDA, but what could it hurt?). It used to be sold at speakeasies in the early 1920s as a hangover cure. Price: $1.99
4. The Mint Julep
Do you like mint? Then this might be your drink. "But everybody is different; it depends on the individual," said Nese. Price: $1.99
5. Almond Cream Soda
It's even better with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Price: $1.99
Have you been to Galco's? Which soda can you not live without?