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.