A pitcher of root beer with a filled glass and cookies.

Homemade Root Beer

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When the days start bringing warmer temperatures, I crave a cold glass of Homemade Root Beer to quench my thirst. If you’re not Cajun, you may not have grown up drinking this classic brew, but just one sip may make you wish you did.

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An Old Fashioned Drink

The flavor of root beer comes from sassafras roots. Since 1889, before sodas were readily available, it was made into a drink to refresh many in the hot southern Louisiana climate.

My fondest memories are visiting my aunt’s house, who always served it to us in small colored metal glasses shaped like a coke bottle. The drink was so cold the cups would stick to our hands. But that didn’t seem to bother us. It was a sweet treat that refreshed us from the hot, humid heat, making us quite happy.

The Root Beer Flavor

To get this tasty drink, you must start with the main ingredient, root beer flavoring. Zatarain makes a delicious root beer concentrate, which I often use. Not surprisingly, it was Emile Zatarain, a New Orleans grocer’s first product he ever sold. Emille formulated the root beer concoction in 1886 and started producing the concentrate in his factory in 1889. It’s been around ever since.

A bottle of Zataran's root beer concentrate.

I’m amazed how many people have never experienced the goodness of this drink. My husband (Mississippi Man) was one of those who had been denied this treat until he met me. The first glass I served him was love at first sip. Thankfully our children like it, too.

The flavoring has always been a staple in our kitchen cabinet. All it takes is a spoonful of the dark concentrate stirred into a pitcher of water with sugar to make this drink.

Mixing sugar and root beer falvoring into a pitcher of water.

Some who taste it for the first time may not care for it. Maybe they’re expecting the fizz from a canned or bottled root beer they are more familiar with, but it’s not like that.

Homemade Root Beer Slush

My Maw-maw Trahan used to purchase root beer concentrate from the Watkins salesman that visited her home. She did this for years before running to the store was an easy option.

After making a pitcher full of the drink, Maw-maw would freeze it in a rectangular dish for several hours. Then she’d take it out to partially thaw on the kitchen table. We’d gather around to watch with anticipation as she scraped the top of the frozen block with a long-handled spoon and served the slush to us in small glasses.

There was no need to drive ten miles into town for a snow cone treat on those hot afternoons, or was there such a thing as snow cones or Icee’s back then?

I hope you venture out and give this drink a try, or if it’s been a while since you’ve tasted it, you’ll soon stir up a pitcher or even scrape a frozen block of it to enjoy.

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A glass of iced drink with lemon slice and sugar cookies.

Homemade Root Beer By Cajun Mamas

A refreshing non-carbonated homemade drink made with root beer extract, sugar, and water. Simply Delicious!

Ingredients

Scale

2 quarts water

1 tablespoon root beer concentrate

1 cup sugar (or sugar substitution in the recommended amount)

lemon wedges (optional)

Instructions

Fill a pitcher with 2 quarts of water.

Add root beer concentrate and sugar.

Stir until sugar melts.

Serve with ice and lemon wedges, if preferred.

Keep refrigerated.

  • Author: Louisiana Woman

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Saint Augustine


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4 Comments

  1. I really like root beer, the fizzy kind, but you’ve made me want to try this! I could also make it with club soda (carbonated water) & see what that’s like. What language do you speak at your house? The sugar canister caught my eye!

    • Hi, Jenny! Yes, you can make it with club soda. We speak English. I wish I knew more Cajun French, but my parents didn’t teach us very much. I think they liked being able to talk in French in front of us so we didn’t understand everything they were saying. Kind of their own hidden language. ☺️

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