Art in the Age ROOT (80 proof) – It’s always exciting to rediscover a product that has been lost to the vagaries of time and taste. In just the past few years we’ve seen the reintroduction of Old Tom gin, Genever, White Dog, Batavia Arrack, dozens of bitters and other obscure spirits and liqueurs make their way back onto the backbar. ROOT is an authentic recreation of one of those products that disappeared around the time of prohibition, only to be replaced by a popular carbonated beverage created by Charles Hires. You’ll find his namesake product in the soda pop section of your local grocery.
ROOT itself is crafted from an early colonial recipe going back about 300 years ago called “root tea”. This was a fermented product made from various spices and savory roots and herbs,similar to a digestif. The main difference between the recipe today is that sassafras is no longer included due to a FDA ban on its use in food and beverage products. Art in the Age has somehow found a way around this, by using a blend of citrus, wintergreen and spearmint. Honestly, I don’t think you can tell the difference, since no one has tasted root tea for several decades. Oh, and ROOT is bottled at 80 proof making for a heartier and more substantial “tea”.
Root is dark brown, and just like root beer has a varied nose of peppermint, anise, clove, sassafras, birch bark, wintergreen and cinnamon. Unlike virtually all commercial root beers, the taste is unexpectedly more herbal than sweet. If you’re expecting a ultra-sweet liqueur, this is not it. It’s more medicinal and amaro-like with a healthy dose of bitter herb and root character. Elements of mint keep this from being too much like German digestifs like Jagermiester or Killipitsch. Overall, this makes for a very unusual spirit and is deserving of experimentation in cocktails in the style of a Sazerac or De La Louisiane. GSN Rating: B+
For more information about ROOT, go to: http://www.artintheage.co/spirits-aita/