Back in the 19th century, root beer was considered a medicinal tonic, said the editors of Imbibe. Later it evolved into an overly sweet, mass-market soda. But some modern versions are getting back to root beer’s roots, “combining flavors of sassafras root, wintergreen, and other herbs.” We recently blind-tasted seven old-fashioned root beers. Our three criteria were flavor (authentic “rooty” taste), mouthfeel (initial carbonation and creaminess), and finish (lingering flavors). The winners were:
The only four-star winner. A “pure, herby root flavor,” pleasant carbonation, and candy-like finish.
Three stars. “Mild sassafras flavor,” somewhat creamy mouthfeel, and a subtle licorice finish.
Three stars. “More like cola,” but with a hint of sassafras; nice carbonation, and a finish that’s “minty all the way.”