An alcohol sarsaparilla that doesn’t pull any punches, Billson’s gets the flavour and strength blending cordial, soda water, and vodka.

Living in Australia, you can find some things missing from the store shelves in regularity. You won’t find graham crackers to make s’mores, candy corn doesn’t exist, and come the holiday season, there’s no such thing as a properly thick egg nog. It just doesn’t exist here.

I can go by without all of those, but there’s one thing I genuinely miss: root beer. It’s next to impossible to find. One of this reviewer’s favourites, Abita Root Beer, doesn’t exist, but if you look around, you might be able to find an import of A&W’s at Coles or Woolies. It’s something, but there’s not a lot of choice.

In its place, you can find something similar: sarsaparilla.

Made from slightly different things, root beer and sarsaparilla are similar, but still not quite the same. In Australia, we don’t have much of the former, but you can definitely find the latter, and even alcoholic options if you look.

Billson’s alcoholic sarsaparilla is one of those, blending something the company makes that isn’t alcoholic with something that is.

It’s a drink that doesn’t attempt to hide what it is, proudly stating it in the can: a sarsaparilla “perfectly blended with triple distilled vodka”, and made with spring water.

Up until this point, we’d never heard of Billson’s, but a quick search shows that it’s a little like Bickford’s cordials meets an alcohol producer. Like Bickford’s, it’s another Australian cordial maker, but unlike that beverage maker, Billson’s also crafts gin and blends its cordials with spring water and alcohol to create premixed drinks. Colour us intrigued.

One of those beverages is a sarsaparilla with vodka, making it an alcohol sarsaparilla you can buy in Australia.

Billson's Vodka with Sarsaparilla

It’s also possibly the only available alcoholic root beer alternative in Australia, with East 9th Brewing’s excellent and yummy Future Memoirs of a Root Beer disappearing years ago, much to this reviewer’s disappointment.

That makes Billson’s a bit of a rarity, because root beer is impossible enough to find locally, and an alcoholic version doubly so.

As close as you can get to a boozy root beer, the flavour of Billson’s vodka and sarsaparilla is completely reminiscent of a bitter classic sars with a bit of bite, with the vodka giving you the alcoholic amount needed for its 3.5% volume. Granted, that’s not a lot of alcohol, totalling one alcoholic drink per can, and means you can get through a four pack of 355ml cans for $25 in no time.

Still, it’s something, and offers Aussies with a love for sarsaparilla something in the style laden with alcohol.

Billson's Sarsaparilla with Vodka review

Will you remember this drink tomorrow morning?

Pretty much the only alcoholic sarsaparilla that's easy to find in Australia, you'll remember Billson's vodka sars not just because it brings that lovely sarsaparilla flavour together with something to relax you, but because it's much easier to find than anything else in the category.

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