What is sarsaparilla?
Sarsaparilla is a soft drink, originally made from plants like the 'Smilax ornata', but now often made with artificial flavors. In most Southeast Asian countries, it is known as 'Sarsi'.
Sarsaparilla was popular in the United States in the 19th century. According to advertisements for patent medicines of the period, it was considered to be a remedy for skin and blood problems. Ruth Tobias notes that it evokes images of "languid belles and parched cowboys".
Sarsaparilla is sometimes considered to be a type of root beer. There are dozens of brands of sarsaparilla beverages made by microbreweries, mainly in the United States.
Sarsaparilla is not readily available in most countries, although many pubs and most major supermarket chains in the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Australia stock sarsaparilla-flavoured soft drinks, and sarsaparilla remains available in the United Kingdom as a legacy of the temperance movement.
Sarsaparilla is produced on a small scale in the United Kingdom. Baldwin's produces a Sarsaparilla cordial in the United Kingdom and have done so continuously since 1844. It is produced in Walworth Road, London, and is readily available in pie and mash shops in the East End of London, where it is popular, as well as being available in some supermarkets.