Say hi to the Soda Factory – a new bar on Wentworth Avenue selling seltzer cocktails, floats and hot dogs all to the sweet sounds of Donna Summer, the Shirelles and the Temptations. You enter via a little shop front called Bobby’s Boss Dogs. Unlike with other bars of its ilk (PDT in New York, say), this cute hot dog store out the front doesn’t actually sell hot dogs – the counter doesn’t serve for much except as a leaning post for the bouncer while he plays on his iPhone. Still, there’s a sweet sign that displays a list of hot dogs you can order once inside the bar.
It’s a nice room – dark with pin-up girls painted on the walls, all candlelit with tea lights caught in Mason jars. Little tables are dotted throughout, along with plush lounges for larger groups. Big tables of girls cluster around discussing their boyfriends – all that’s missing are the poodle skirts and Bobby socks.
The island bar in the middle of the room is lit from above with huge bottle-green shades. The drinks list is prodigious and, for the crowd they get in here, very smartly laid out with plenty on the fun’n’fruity cocktail front. There’s the apple pie-flavoured Levenstein (named for the dessert-molester in American Pie) and the Pink Diamond Fizz (pink grapefruit, gin and lemon juice shaken over egg white) but we’re all about the cocktail floats.
Try the Piña Co Float. It’s served in a classic soda glass complete with red-and-white striped paper straw and a scoop of vanilla ice cream – it’s basically a Piña Colada spider. Fun! The hot dogs, by the way, are huge. The Texas Redneck dog involves a nice soft bun, a fairly viscous chilli, and a skinny sausage on a base covered with melted cheese, but the bun doesn't hold the contents. Everything falls out of the bottom in a cascade of beans, tomato and mince.
Staff here are definitely used to handling big numbers – they get the drinks out swiftly and politely enough, but it might be worth working on some chat on the quieter nights. (And just a quiet side note: despite the Grease vibe, gals as a rule don’t like being talked through.
The next time you’re tempted to ask her boyfriend “what the lady will be having”, try asking her instead. We’ve become pretty good at ordering our own drinks since we got the vote.)
Soda Factory gets plenty right and it’s already got quite a following. Who doesn’t like hot dogs, sweet soul music and seltzer drinks?