Trend Alert: A Root Revival

A new spirit created by a team out of Philadelphia is drumming up some big buzz. Root, an organic 80 proof liqueur that aspires to resurrect root beer's colonial predecessor root tea, has already gotten ink in Vanity Fair and Gourmet (RIP). And hey, I flow with the trends, so now I wanna try some.

Root, from Art in the Age, is distilled from organic sugar cane and gets its flavor from birch bark, smoked black tea, sassafras essence, orange and lemon peel, allspice, anise, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg. The creators call it "a truly interesting and contemplative quaff. Certainly like nothing else we have ever tasted before. It is NOT Root Beer flavored vodka or a sickly sweet liqueur." (Thank goodness.)

And it reportedly plays well with others. Cocktail recipes on the site include a Root de Pina, the Royal Apple with whisky and a spin on a hot toddy.

The first batch has been released in "highly limited quantities" in and around Philly. I have yet to spot it in DC, so while we wait, you can order it online (details here).

Meanwhile, might this buzzworthy newcomer spark a root beer revival in craft cocktails?

I tasted one contender just last week at the new Sou'Wester in the Mandarin Oriental. Sommelier and mixologist Carlton McCoy is making his own root beer for a cocktail float featuring Jack Daniel's, vanilla bean, Angostura bitters and soda. Try it out during the restaurant's Country Time happy hour, daily from 3-5 p.m., when cocktails are $7 instead of $10.

And let me know if you spot any Root out there.