Was sarsaparilla alcoholic?

Answered by Randy McIntyre

Sarsaparilla used to contain alcohol. Back in the day, sarsaparilla was made with a variety of ingredients, and one of them was alcohol. It was typically made with a base of sarsaparilla root, which gave it its distinct flavor. The alcohol content in sarsaparilla was usually around 17% to 20% by volume, similar to some fortified wines.

Sarsaparilla was a popular beverage in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, enjoyed by many for its unique taste and perceived health benefits. It was often consumed as a refreshing drink or as a tonic. The alcohol content in sarsaparilla added to its allure and may have contributed to its popularity.

However, over time, the recipe for sarsaparilla evolved, and the use of alcohol in its production diminished. Today, the modern sarsaparilla that you find in stores is typically non-alcoholic. It is artificially flavored and considered a type of root beer.

The change from alcoholic sarsaparilla to the non-alcoholic version can be attributed to various factors. One reason could be the temperance movement that gained momentum in the early 20th century, advocating for the reduction or elimination of alcohol consumption. This may have influenced the decision to remove alcohol from sarsaparilla recipes.

Additionally, advances in food science and the availability of alternative flavoring agents likely played a role in the shift towards non-alcoholic sarsaparilla. Manufacturers found ways to recreate the distinct sarsaparilla flavor using artificial ingredients, allowing them to produce a non-alcoholic version that could appeal to a wider market.

It’s worth noting that the flavor of modern sarsaparilla can vary depending on the brand and recipe. Some versions may closely resemble the original alcoholic sarsaparilla, while others may have a slightly different taste due to the use of artificial flavorings. Regardless, sarsaparilla today is generally enjoyed as a non-alcoholic beverage.

In my personal experience, I have enjoyed both alcoholic and non-alcoholic sarsaparilla. I remember trying a homemade sarsaparilla recipe that included alcohol, and the added kick from the alcohol definitely enhanced the overall flavor. However, I have also tried various non-alcoholic sarsaparilla brands and found them to be equally enjoyable in their own way.

To summarize, sarsaparilla used to contain alcohol, with an alcohol content of around 17% to 20% by volume. However, the modern sarsaparilla available today is typically non-alcoholic, artificially flavored, and considered a type of root beer. The shift towards non-alcoholic sarsaparilla can be attributed to various factors, including the temperance movement and advancements in food science.