Written by Cocktails

Bartenders Root Beer Recipe

When you work behind a bar you’ll get the occasional odd request. Sometimes it for some bizarre drink, other times it for an odd ingredient and then there is the request for items that usually are not stocked in a typical bar, like root beer. Most bars have a limited supply of non-alcoholic carbonated beverages and those are typically Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Ginger Ale, Tonic Water, Club Soda or their equivalent Pepsico products. So what’s a bartender to do when someone wants vodka and root beer? Well you have three options, say you don’t stock that, chastise them for drinking kiddie drinks or make a Bartenders Root Beer.

Now I must admit that I like the flavour of a good root beer. It remind me of when I was a kid and my parents would take me to the AandW Drive-In restaurant. You’d have an ice cold mug of root beer, a burger and some fries in the comfort of your parents car. But I also like the fact that there are lots of small market root beer makers around. Unlike the giant cola companies, small makers of root beer still seem to exist like Thomas Kemper, Virgil’s, Jones Soda and many more. They even have cult like followers and home brewers, kind of like the beer culture.

So how do you make a Bartenders Root Beer? Here’s how:

Bartenders Root Beer Recipe

1 oz Kahlua
½ oz Galliano
3 oz Coke or Pepsi
2 oz Soda Water

In a 12 oz Collins glass packed with ice build the drink and stir to combine ingredients and garnish with a cherry.

Flavour wise this drink doesn’t exactly match the qualities of a genuine Root Beer. But, it does have that sweet flavour with some herbal notes from the Galliano. Some recipes call for a squeeze of lime, but I skipped it, but it might have benefited from a little acid to cut the sweetness. It will do in a pinch and is a good drink to serve rookie drinkers.

For the true mixologist out there making your own root beer isn’t that hard. If you’ve ever made home-brew beer than root beer is very similar.

Bartenders-root-beerGenuine Root Beer Recipe

    • 5 liters water
      ¼ ounce hops
      ½ ounce dried burdock root
      ½ ounce dried yellow dock root
      ½ ounce dried sarsaparilla root
      ½ ounce dried sassafras root
      ½ ounce dried spikenard root
      1½ cups sugar
      ¼ tsp granulated yeast


Simmer herbs for 30 minutes. Add sugar, stir to dissolve. Cool to about 35C (94F), pitch the yeast and stir well. Cover and let sit for 1 hour. Filter through cheese cloth and bottle. Store at room temperature for 24 hours. Place in fridge and let age for a few days.

Please note that finding sassafras that is safrole-free maybe hard. Safrole is a potential carcinogen, so using wild sassafras is probably not a good idea.

Now the last thing is that if you want to look like you are in the "know" don’t order a root beer, Orange Crush, Cream Soda or any other odd variety of pop in a bar. Unless the bar is slightly hip and carries products like Jones Soda, most bars won’t stock Root Beer and when you order one the bartender will give you that odd look. So if you are craving an alcoholic drink, but want to reflect upon your childhood years, just order a Bartenders Root Beer.

Darcy O'Neil | Art of Drink

Writer, author of Fix the Pumps, chemist, beekeper and general do-er-of-things, Darcy can generally be found looking for new and interesting things to do, usually over a cocktail. Currently working on more soda fountain history.

Last modified: November 15, 2018