Few things inspire self-righteous claims to old-school New York Jew-iness like the egg cream. "Oh, I used to love egg creams," people will say, name-checking the seltzer man who delivered to their house or the great-aunt Mamie who owned a candy store on the Lower East Side, then rolling their eyes about some chichi new place hawking artisanal single-source cacao bean "egg creams" concocted by people who've never been to Brooklyn.

The origins of the simple egg cream--which despite the name is actually made of just fizz, chocolate, and milk--can be debated ad nauseum. Depending on who you ask, the drink was first created by an actor named Boris, a candy store owner named Louis, a guy who ran a luncheonette named Moisha or a man known as Uncle Hymie on the Lower East Side.

So, let's just skip all that debate and nostalgia and agree that egg creams are Jewish, either originating in Brooklyn or Manhattan, really refreshing, and fun to make and drink. While my son Leo won't be hitting the soda fountain after long afternoons of stickball, egg creams remain an accessible delight and enjoying them is a tradition I plan to pass on to him.

For many of us, a perfect egg cream can be made using the recipe from the back of the classic Fox's U-Bet chocolate flavor syrup bottle. So if you ask me, this is a basic egg cream (with thanks to the Fox's website)

The Original Brooklyn Egg Cream

·    Take a tall, chilled, straight-sided, 8 oz. glass
·    Spoon 1 inch of U-bet Chocolate syrup into glass
·    Add 1 inch whole milk
·    Tilt the glass and spray seltzer (from a pressurized cylinder only) off a spoon, to make a big chocolate head
·    Stir, Drink, Enjoy

Okay, I cut the syrup down a bit, to maybe a ½ inch. And I think it's fine to use lower fat milk. In fact, plain lowfat soymilk tastes particularly rich for some reason. And I'm sure plenty of people use Hershey's chocolate syrup for their egg creams without becoming inferior human beings in any noticeable way.

You can make a decent egg cream with a freshly opened seltzer bottle, but one of those nifty counter-top or refrigerator spigot bottles using cartridges is ideal for the purpose, since every squirt has enough fizzy force to create a truly creamy, foamy head. Perhaps the recent trend towards home seltzer machines and all things DIY will bring about an egg cream renaissance. I plan to do my part.

Since they are mostly seltzer, unlike soda or chocolate milk, I consider egg creams to be pretty wholesome. Plus, they offer the mystic alchemy of all good kitchen projects, making them ideal for budding cooks/scientists: you mix up a little chocolate milk, squeeze in your bubbly water, and poof: a magical drink with a thick head and a flavor that's way more than the sum of its parts.

The more I thought about them, the more I realized that what I love about egg creams is the fizz, gentled by sweetened milk and topped with velvety foam. With all due respect to the "chocolate flavor" of Fox's, it seemed that homemade egg cream fun could go beyond the Original Brooklyn. Since I just happen to be a self-righteous Jew living in Brooklyn, I decided to hit the bodega, and then create some new egg cream traditions. My great-nieces and nephews can name-check me if they want.

Banana-Cinnamon Egg Cream

Makes 1 drink

l/2 large, very ripe banana, peeled, cut into chunks and frozen
1/3 cup milk
Seltzer water (from a seltzer maker or freshly opened bottle/can)
Ground cinnamon (optional)

In a blender, whip the banana and milk until completely smooth and frothy, about 2 minutes. Pour into a tall glass. Top with seltzer, dust with cinnamon if desired and serve right away.

Mango Egg Cream

Makes 1 drink

½ cup mango nectar
2 to 3 teaspoons sweetened condensed milk (depending how sweet the mango nectar is)
Seltzer water (from a seltzer maker or freshly opened bottle/can)

In a tall glass, stir together the mango nectar and condensed milk. Fill the glass with seltzer, stir with a long spoon and serve right away.

Vietnamese Coffee Egg Cream

Makes 1 drink

1 teaspoon instant coffee (regular or decaf)
1 tablespoon hot water
1 tablespoon cold milk or water
3 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
Seltzer water (from a seltzer maker or freshly opened bottle/can)

In a tall glass, dissolve the coffee in the hot water. Stir in the cold water or milk to cool the mixture, followed by the condensed milk. Fill the glass with seltzer, stir with a long spoon and serve right away.

Zoe Singer

Zoe Singer is a freelance writer and co-author of The Flexitarian Table. Her food writing, photography and recipes appear in publications including The Financial Times, Body & Soul Magazine, Epicurious.com and Chow.com. She is a regular contributor to Edible Brooklyn and Edible Manhattan and is included in an upcoming collection of essays published by Edible Communities. A former food blogger for New York Magazine, she edits cookbooks for Food & Wine Magazine, blogs for FitPregnancy.com and still eats for two even though she already had the baby.