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Q & A

Chef Anton Nocito knows his way around a professional kitchen. You could say it’s in his blood. His grandfather owned a bakery, which gave him the chance to do his own baking as a kid. But Anton chose carcasses over cupcakes and became a butcher. After a decade of carving beef, he decided to attend the French Culinary Institute. With degree in hand, he ended up working in many top restaurants including Danny Meyer’s Union Square Cafe and MoMA’s Cafe 2. Currently, he is the Executive Chef at A Cafe in the AKA Hotel Central Park.

Last July, Anton started playing around with artisanal syrups, made from fresh produce bought at the farmers markets. He added a bit of fizz and his new biz was born.

The P&H was poached from Anton’s wife, graphic designer Erica Rothchild. She had designed a line of screen printed greeting cards under the name Pumpkin & Honey Bunny. Which sounds like a kid’s cartoon, but actually refers to the diner-robbing couple in the first and last scenes in “Pulp Fiction.” Anton lifted and then shortened the name.

Q & A with Anton Nocito

Q. Please tell us about P&H soda:

A. I’ve always wanted to own my own restaurant, or my own soda fountain, and P&H Soda was born from that thought. The soda matches my style of cooking, I like to keep things simple and full of flavor. Not too fussy, just plain good.

I began in my home kitchen just playing around with flavors and researching the old soda fountain drinks. We tested them out at the first Greenpoint Food Market last September and people seemed to really be into them.

Q. What makes my soda really pop is:

A. The fresh, all-natural ingredients with a good balance of sweetness. Also, I don’t use any preservatives in my soda syrup. There are only a handful of ingredients in each flavor.

As a trained chef, I find making beverages another part of being a chef. You have to be well rounded to be a good chef. You should never limit yourself.

Q. What’s the best way to drink P&H?

A. Mixed with cold seltzer over ice.

Q. You plan to open an old fashioned soda fountain. What does that vision look like and do you have some locations that you think would be ideal?

A. I’d like to open in a neighborhood that appreciates local, artisanal products. The vision I have is for a modern take on an old school soda fountain. More of a hybrid. The area should also have a significant number of families. Kids seem to get a kick out of seeing me make sodas at the markets. I’d love to have a family friendly place.

Q. Ingredients you’ve tried using in your sodas that spelled D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R:

A. Before I began using organic Hawaiian ginger I tried several other varieties that completely lacked the burst of flavor I was going for.

Q. Where do you get your ingredients and any presently getting you excited to try? Is there a Holy Grail of ingredients that you’d ultimately like to use?

A. My seasonal produce comes from local farmer’s markets. This includes fruits and herbs such as blueberries, cherries, lemon verbena and Concord grapes. After careful research I began purchasing my spices from Mountain Rose Herbs. They’re a 100% organic spice company.

Right now I’m excited to start experimenting with kola nut, sarsaparilla and birch.

Q. Drinking... (fill in the blank) reminds me of my childhood.

A. Cream soda.

Q. Drinking.... (fill in the blank)

A. Blackberry or black cherry soda with milk

Q. reminds me of .... (fill in the blank)

A. my paternal grandfather! He used to make us a black cherry or blackberry soda with milk for desert to go with the Italian cookies he had picked up from the bakery. He said it was his favorite when he was a kid. I can understand why, it’s great!

Q. Can you share some expert tips on how to taste distinguishing qualities in sodas? What makes a specialized soda stand out?

A. I usually like to see a soda that isn’t too sweet or too dry. It should have a nice balance of flavor. When someone drinks a specialized soda they should be able to recognize the thought that went into creating the beverage.

Q. Recommendations on how to use the syrup - percentages to use when mixing with soda water? Creative uses?

A. I generally pour 1.5 ounces of syrup over ice in a 16 oz glass and fill with seltzer. The great thing about my syrup is that you can choose to add as little or as much as you like. I also love mixing the flavors! Hibiscus Lime Ricky, Strawberry and Cream and Ginger Lime have all been popular. We’ve also teamed up with MilkMade Ice Cream and done ice cream sodas that were a hit at the Greenpoint Food Market.

Q. Any great cocktails you’ve created using your sodas and/or syrups?

A. Our friend Drake Page of The D.P. Chutney Collective recently used our lime syrup in a variation of the classic Gimlet [see recipe].

My mother in-law also tells me the Hibiscus syrup pairs very nicely with vodka!

Q. Can you suggest some interesting pairings for your drinks?

A. I love the Hibiscus soda with Chinese food and the Cream soda with a simple grilled cheese sandwich.

Q. Any unique products you’ve recently discovered that would compliment your beverage for making cocktails?

A. Some Acid Phosphate that I got from Darcy O’Neil in Canada. He wrote a book on soda fountains. It’s a classic ingredient for bringing out the flavor and adding tartness to a drink. It’s not something I would ever use in my soda syrup, but it’s nice to play with a classic. They used to use it to make orange phosphates in the early soda fountain days.

Q. Where can we find your products?

A. I’m currently selling bottles of syrup to The Brooklyn Kitchen and in bulk to Brooklyn Ecopolis and Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Fountain for them to make fresh sodas. And as of next week, we’ll also be out at Rockaway Taco.

Q. The Greenpoint Food Market has been forced to close down. As a vendor there, can you share some words about this?

A. We were saddened to hear of the market’s demise. Joann Kim really poured her heart and soul into it. We feel she created something the city needed. In the meantime, we truly cherish all of the connections we made by participating in the GFM. There was real camaraderie there. If and when she’s ready to get it up and running again, we’ll be back to support it.


Q. Who else in your field is doing things you think deserve more praise and why?

A. Bean & Apple -- we know Aimee Bariteau from the Greenpoint Food Market. She makes an Oreo Cookie Cookie that will knock your socks off. I’ve also been known to eat her Salted Carmel Sauce right out of the jar.

[See details.]

Q. What other artisanally-made products can you recommend?

A. Anarchy In A Jar, Brooklyn Brine, Robicelli’s, The D.P. Chutney Collective and Cheshire Canning because we really love the idea of a very “hands on” product. A lot of thought goes into what they do.

[See details.]

Q. Are there any great “watering holes” that you could recommend?

A. Dram in Brooklyn. I love the concept of going in and letting the bartender work his magic. All you need to do is tell them what type of alcohol you’d like and if you want it shaken or stirred. They do the rest and man do they do it well. You never know what your going to get but it’s always good.

[See details.]

Q. Any soda fountains (anywhere in the world) that you could recommend and what should we order?

A. You should head to Brooklyn Farmacy and order a P&H soda!

In all seriousness, we’ve been to quite a few soda fountains in the NY metro area in the past year and none of them have represented what I think a soda fountain should be. They’ve become less popular in the past 40 years and the owners seem to have let them go. I’m hoping to help bring the concept back.

[See details.]

Q. Any coffee shops that are worth going out of way for?

A. Brooklyn Ecopolis -- they’re a 100% “green” building and they carry PT’s coffee from Topeka, Kansas. Café Grumpy and Blue Bottle are also local standouts for their sourcing and brewing process.

[See details.]

Q. Places for:


The Perfect Egg Cream | Junior’s in Midtown.

[See details.]

Lemonade | The Meatball Shop.

For their strawberry lemonade.

[See details.]

Root Beer | Ithaca Beer Company’s.

For their strawberry lemonade.

[See details.]

Q. As a chef, we’d like to ask if you could share some of your favorite restaurants... anywhere in the world, casual or fancy and what you’d recommend ordering:


Off The Beaten Track | Rockaway Taco

For their fish tacos.

[See details.]

For A Special Night | Eleven Madison Park

For their tasting menu.

[See details.]

For Food You Crave | Trattoria Anna Maria

In Bologna, Italy, for their lasagna.

[See details.]

Worth Every Penny| French Laundry

In Yountville -- get the tasting menu.

[See details.]

Won’t Break The Bank| KyoChon

In Flushing, NY -- get the whole chicken, half original, half hot, at KyoChon. The best Korean fried chicken out there!

[See details.]


- The Gimlet

- Hibiscus Lime Rickey

- Lemon Verbena Soda Syrup


Details of Anton Nocito’s recommendations on where to eat and drink in New York, Brooklyn, Napa, and Bologna, Italy.

City Guides

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- New York City | Brooklyn Guide: Download

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Anton Nocito’s recommendations on where to eat and drink in New York, Brooklyn, Napa, and Bologna, Italy.


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