Sweet Nostalgia Flows at Mill No. 5 in Lowell
LOWELL -- Looking for a sundae smothered in hot fudge? Or maybe you want a hand-crafted fizzy elderberry soda.
Dows Soda Fountain at Mill No. 5 is serving up exciting ice creams, milkshakes, sodas and floats with a unique twist on paying homage to the city’s history.
The soda and ice cream parlor is named after Gustavus D. Dows, who patented the country’s first marble soda fountain in 1861. Dows was a Billerica native, who later brought his invention to a pharmacy on Central Street in Lowell.
“We love that history and sort of wanted to honor it, and the history of the pharmacies that would have the soda counter and the department stores,” said Amelia Tucker, Mill No. 5′s artistic director. “We wanted to honor that and have a place for families and young people to come and hang out, spend time, gather as a community.”
Dows Soda Fountain is a transformation from the Red & White Market, which opened about three years ago. The Red & White Market had already served sodas and milkshakes, but the space now includes an ice cream parlor and carefully crafted menu items.
Not many people can say they get delighted when someone says they’ve never had a root beer float. But sentences like that make Dows Soda Fountain Manager Sarah Lamothe’s day.
“It stops me in my tracks and I’m like, can I please be the first person to make you a root beer float,” she said. “I love being able to facilitate the ability for families to make these new memories in a format that is perhaps becoming very rare in our country.”
Lamothe said they have partnered with Shaw’s Farm of Dracut for its dairy ice creams. Flavors include chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, mint chip, butter pecan and coffee.
For those who want a dairy-free option, Dows Soda Fountain has also partnered with FoMu of Cambridge, for its vegan ice cream. Those flavors include chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and seasonal flavors.
“With everything we do here at Mill No. 5, we are all about supporting our local community. It has always been extremely important to us to source ingredients locally whenever we can,” Lamothe said. “We really wanted to offer something special to the public.”
Most toppings are made in-house, like the hot fudge, which Lamothe spent weeks perfecting, whipped cream and caramel sauce. Vegan fudge and whipped cream toppings are also available. Lamothe used an old-fashioned fudge recipe from the 1890s -- so no high fructose corn syrup.
There are four Lowell-inspired sodas on the menu made entirely from scratch. Dows’ Signature Ginger Ale, is based on his internationally recognized soft drink. Hood’s Sarsaparilla requires a six-month process to make and uses sustainably harvested roots and herbs.
“We’ve created those flavors not necessarily following the recipes. A lot of those recipes we don’t have access to,” Lamothe said. “But we did a lot of research in reading about those flavor profiles and how people did things back then.”
The specialty Elderberry Botanical soda, a favorite of Lamothe’s, is also made from scratch and sweetened with local honey.
The business is open Wednesday through Friday from noon to 8 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“The more we can create spaces for the community to gather and spend time together, the better,” Tucker said. “As technology takes people into the online sphere, it’s nice to have chances for in-person conversation, meeting new people and just gathering.”
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/DowsSodaFountain or www.millno5.com . Also check them out on Instagram @Dows_Soda.
Follow Kori Tuitt on Twitter @KoriTuitt.