With D’s fellowship exams coming up, we took our expeditions for different brands of sarsaparilla closer to home (or the local Asian grocery), so starting with the A&W Sarsaparilla is a series of sarsparilla brands imported from Asian where it’s more commonly called sarsi, a sarsaparilla-based soft drink.
This here is F&N Sarsi imported from Malaysia.
The beverage is well-carbonated with a translucent medium brown colour, much lighter than the almost opaque brown-black of Western sarsparillas, with a sweet and acidic medicinal nose. Consumed ice-cold, the sweetness is heavy in the head, recalling rock sugar, before prominent wintergreen flavours develop with intensity in the body towards the finish and return to the rock sugar sweetness in the aftertaste.
There are none of the caramel, vanilla or liquorice of Western sarsparilla. Indeed, the wintergreen notes are even more pronounced than in the A&W Sarsaparilla. And if that one had the taste of sweetened Voltaren gel, then this one by F&N has the sweetened taste of the more intensely scented Tiger Balm White, which is 15% wintergreen oil. Whereas Western sarsaparilla has a pleasant medicinal flavour like the kind that can be ingested, this is the second Asian sarsi that has an unpleasant medicinal flavour like the kind that comes with warnings for ‘external use only’. Medicinal flavour aside, this Sarsaparilla was also overly sweet and made Schweppes taste barely sweetened when compared side by side.
Perhaps I’ll have more luck with sarsi from outside Malaysia? Or is sarsi closer to root bear than sarsaparilla?
This can of F&N Sarsi contained 330ml. It was bottled in Malaysia and purchased in Sydney, Australia in 2017.