Lofty Pursuits is part Tallahassee attraction, part eatery and part museum where you eat some of the displays. It’s rather complex in its simplicity, but don’t analyze it, just enjoy the fun.
Finding a category for its owner, Brooklyn born Greg Cohen, presents equal challenges. He is as comfortable with computer wizardry as he is assembling a Victorian era candy making machine.
The “New York Times” called Lofty Pursuits “one of the best soda fountains in the country.” It’s rare and one of the few of its kind – reminiscent of the 1950s -- where soda jerks donning aprons, caps and bow ties craft sodas, fizzes, yips, floats, egg creams and, oh yes, Victorian candy. But don’t let the collection of vintage yoyo award patches and toys distract you.
For many, the artistic candy is the main attraction. For others, the charm comes from any of the creations made from more than 200 quirky and imaginative flavors of ice cream, sherbet, sorbet and even vegan varieties.
The drop candy, spiral lollipops and ribbon candy will satisfy any sweet tooth, but the image candy is even more pleasing to the eye. It’s one of the few places anywhere that candy masters pull and twist large logs of hot sugar by hand, making intricate designs in a variety of colors. It’s a tradition dating back to the 1700s in England and Cohen’s staff uses an 1881 cooling table as part of the artistry. Other machines in the store date from 1850-1890. See some of the Victorian equipment in action here.
Lofty Pursuits offers a daily selection of three dozen flavors of ice cream, sherbets and sorbets, from Mexican Hot Chocolate (with a hint of cinnamon and chili pepper), Guinness (a touch of the dark malt right from the tap), Java Jive (espresso ice cream with flecks of dark roasted Turkish coffee beans), Strawberry Processeco Sorbet (crisp strawberry and wine) to standards like Butter Pecan, Vanilla Bean and Chocolate.
Through ongoing research and experimentation, Cohen crafts exotic cola flavors for a variety of fizzes and floats. Think of it as a science lab focusing on sweets. The Green River, for example, features lime sherbet over handmade citrus soda with fresh lemon juice. A 12-page menu offers insight into the many possibilities available and doubles as a history book.
Cohen, the book’s author, is considered one of the nation’s foremost authorities on the institution of the American soda fountain. He created a tasty tribute to nostalgia that includes everything including the Kitchen Sink – a 26-scoop sundae with every topping in the house served in a stainless steel sink.
Opened in 1993, Lofty Pursuits is located at 1355 Market Street #A11 in Tallahassee, FL. It is open noon to 10 PM Monday through Friday, 10 AM to 10 PM Saturday and noon to 9 PM Sunday. www.LoftyPursuits.com.