Sarsaparilla and root beer also share some similarities. The first being that the two beverages taste vaguely the same, and the second similarity is that root beer uses sarsaparilla in its preparation. So, if you knew both these facts, that sarsaparilla is used to make both these beverages, and they both look the same as well, wouldn't you want to know the difference as well?
It's Spanish name zarzaparrilla is derived from the words 'zarza' meaning 'shrub' and 'parrilla' meaning 'little grape vine'.
The Central Americans were apparently the first people who came up with the idea of using the extracts of this vine to prepare this beverage.
If you remember the Yosemite Sam character, which was loosely based on a guy from the old west, he often mentioned that he wants a 'sasparilly' and that he wants it 'really snappy'!
Today, it is a drink that is primarily made from this plant without mixing it with anything else. As such, the sarsaparilla root beer recipe contains only one flavoring ingredient, i.e., the sarsaparilla itself.
The root beer comes in several flavors based on the other roots used. Unlike sarsaparilla of course, it uses a combination of different substances to dilute the taste of sarsaparilla, which some people may not enjoy.
As you can see, the debate on sarsaparilla vs. root beer can be ended on the note that while root beer is a slightly tweaked beverage, sarsaparilla is the real thing. Well, at least the original thing. People came up with the sarsaparilla drink much before the root beer, and it is believed that the root beer came into existence due to some people's dislike for sarsaparilla. But in spite of that, the popularity of sarsaparilla continues to grow unabated.