The Bespeckled Trout (the little shop connected to Anglers & Writers, on Hudson St. near St. Lukes) has just opened a little (6 or 7 stools) soda fountain. It is highly promising. I tried a chocolate malted, and the really interesting news is that he uses neither Horlick's nor Carnation, but rather what he described as raw malt from Wisconsin. He showed it to me; it looked like little pellets rather than powder. We were so enthusiastic that he also made us an on-the-house egg cream with a pretzel, which he said was the way they traditionally used to be served. The guy seems very knowledgable and passionate about all things soda-fountain-related. The shake maker is a vintage Hamilton Beach which he reconditioned; ditto for the seltzer taps. The counter itself is a marble slab from a 1930's Queens soda fountain.
I am really excited about this place, and will sample more things and report back. I haven't yet tried the ice cream itself, but he says it's a 16%-butterfat(!) ice cream from the midwest. Next on my must-try list: hot fudge sundae!