Food - Drink
Here's What Gives Root Beer Its Unique Flavor
Root beer is traditionally flavored with sarsaparilla and sassafras roots, creating the drink's balance of sweet, refreshing, and bitter. However, the FDA has labeled safrole, the oil derived from these roots, as a carcinogen and banned its use in America, so what is root beer flavored with in the USA today?
These days, most root beer gets its flavor from a combination of vanilla and wintergreen, plus ith small amounts of ginger, licorice, anise, juniper berries, dandelion, and sometimes cherry tree bark, nutmeg, or cinnamon and cane sugar. The wintergreen provides the minty quality that is unique to root beer.
Each brand of root beer has its own flavor, so if you're curious, set up a taste test to find your favorite. The complex layers of flavor in any root beer pair great with vanilla ice cream, or if you want something more grown up and less kid-friendly, give this traditional soft drink an alcoholic twist in a craft cocktail.