There are contemporary drinks, throwback drinks, retro drinks, vintage drinks… and then there’s sarsaparilla. Until a few weeks ago, I had only heard sarsaparilla mentioned in cowboy movies. However, at a recent visit to Tilth (Oprah voice: amaaaaazing) I saw it on the menu and had to try it out. It is refreshing, herbal, lightly carbonated and (to my surprise) non-alcoholic. Maria Hines, the lovely and talented chef/owner of Tilth was generous enough to share her recipe, which I’ve adapted below.
Total kitchen time: 10 minutes
Makes: 2 liters
- 3 cups organic brown sugar
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups cut sarsaparilla root (available from online sources)
- 1 liter club soda
- Special equipment: French press
- Add the sugar and water to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil.
- Remove the lid and strainer from your French press and add the sarsaparilla root. Fill with the hot simple syrup (sugar water) and let steep for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reattach the strainer and top of the French press and, well, press. Pour the liquid into a container (glass iced tea bottles work great). Refrigerate until ready to serve, or store cold for up to 2 weeks.
- When ready to serve, combine 1 part sarsaparilla syrup with one part club soda over ice.
This is a really delicious, refreshing afternoon drink. Plus, there’s no high-fructose corn syrup – just good ‘ol fashioned brown sugar and water. At Tilth, the drink is served with a beautiful shard of ice in lieu of ice cubes, which we all know are totally played out. To make your own ice shard, freeze a small Tupperware container full of water, then go all Psycho on it with a screwdriver and mallet.