I'm not one of those people who call radio stations late at night claiming to have seen shadow people, but Big Soda brings out a little bit of a conspiracy theorist in me. So it was very exciting to learn that you can make your very own root beer at home.
Okay, so we took a couple shortcuts. We used root beer extract, which is nothing to be ashamed of, since who sells sassafras root? Not you, if you know what's good for you, since its sale has been banned by the FDA for years on account of causing cancer in rats. Actually, we used birch root beer extract, which uses birch tree roots instead, but it still tasted like root beer to me.
Then, the champagne yeast that was supposed to fizz up water vanished under mysterious circumstances (a squirrel may be involved). We could have used dry ice instead (my sister did this when she made root beer in her 5th grade class), but being lazy, we used already-carbonated club soda, following the A & W recipe from More Top Secret Recipes: More Fabulous Kitchen Clones of America's Favorite Brand-Name Foods. Very easy: dissolve 3/4 cup sugar in 3/4 cup hot water, let cool, and add to one liter of club soda along with 1/2 teaspoon + 1/8 teaspoon of root beer extract.
And voila! Root beer.