Sarsaparilla

QUESTION:  Which of the following is not a traditional soft drink?
A)  Ginger Ale
B)  Birch Beer
C)  Butter Beer
D)  Root Beer
ANSWER BELOW

Yesterday, the American Treasure Tour blog discussed one of the most successful patent medicine producers of the nineteenth century, James Cook Ayer.  Today, we are going to delve a little deeper into the most famous of his medicines, sarsaparilla.  Today, most people don't even realize that the origin of soft drinks was as medicine - Coca-Cola and Pepsi Cola being the two most famous of these.  Sarsaparilla is an anglicized word for the smilex ornata, which is a vine native to Central America and Mexico.  In Spanish, it is called zarzaparilla, translating literally into 'little grape vine bramble.'

As early as the 1820's, the sarsaparilla plant was used in medicine to cure skin and blood problems, as well as some venereal diseases.  By adding sugar and carbonating the medicine, it became more palatable.  Then, it evolved into an option for people avoiding alcohol consumption.  In the American wild west, a man could expect to be mocked for ordering a sarsaparilla at a saloon, while it became a desired option on the menus at European Temperance Bars.  Nowadays, the name is often interchangeable with another soft drink: root beer.  In the Northeastern United States, birch beer is a third option, but there are many natives of the region who would contend that each has its own distinctive flavor.  And numerous microbreweries have introduced a liquor content to these former favorites of the temperance societies.

ANSWER:  C)  Butter Beer.  That comes from the popular Harry Potter franchise, although some places are creating their own butter beer concoctions in honor of the books.