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Bickford’s Sarsaparilla Flavoured Cordial

For around two months last year, we stopped see­ing our go-to afford­able Sarsaparilla by Schweppes on the super­mar­ket shelves. That sent us into a flurry — how would we guzzle sar­sa­parilla now?! Delicious as Bundaberg is, it’s not guzzle-mater­i­al. We thought we found our answer in this Bickford’s Sarsaparilla Flavoured Cordial. After all, Bickford’s sar­sa­parilla has been in pro­duc­tion since 1874.

The cor­di­al con­cen­trate uses sar­sa­parilla fla­vour and has a deep brown-black col­our like pre-mixed sar­sa­parilla. Using 1 part sar­sa­parilla to 4 parts soda water as recom­men­ded on the pack­aging, the res­ult­ing bever­age has prom­ising notes of liquorice and car­a­mel in the nose. On tast­ing, though, a sour under­tone comes through with the notes of liquorice and vanilla in the head. I’ve not encountered sour­ness before in sar­sa­parilla, and here it reminds of a weak liquorice fla­vour that doesn’t quite stand on its own while using less water only emphas­ises the sour­ness rather than bring­ing a bolder fla­vour. A car­a­mel sweet­ness with vanilla fla­vour emerges weakly in the body before the sour­ness returns in the fin­ish.

The bever­age lacks the bal­anced com­plex­ity and depth of fla­vour found in good sar­sa­parilla. This alone doesn’t make it worse than pre-mixed sar­sparilla, but the heavy mouth­feel of the bever­age also neg­ates the com­pens­at­ory refresh­ing effect of even highly car­bon­ated water. It’d seem that the pre­mixed sar­sa­parilla by Bickford’s that D recalls from his child­hood has a dif­fer­ent base.

This bottle of Bickford’s Sarsaparilla Flavoured Cordial con­tained 750 ml. It was bottled in Australia and was pur­chased in Sydney, Australia in 2016.