Root Beer with Moxie: recipe updated on 6/9/12

14 May

Happy post-Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!  One of  my most poignant memories of Mother’s Day is the year when my father came home from a mysterious morning mission with a new puppy.  He climbed up the stairs, puppy in arms, and my mom woke up to a soft, slobbery pink tongue on her cheek.  This was a dog with a lot of spunk right from the get-go, so we named her Moxie.

Moxie is also a soda that originates from Maine– I don’t know of anywhere beyond New England where you can find it.

Moxie Soda gets it’s characteristic flavoring from gentian root.

In my quest to find awesome combinations of root beer, I decided to experiment with gentian root, the primary flavor of Moxie.  The following recipe creates a satisfyingly bittersweet/sour brew


4 c water

1 tsp gentian root

1 tsp licorice root

1 tsp sarsaparilla root 

2 T sassafras root

The roots in water, ready to be simmered

in a medium saucepan.  Simmer the combination for 20 minutes, and then allow it to steep for another half hour.  Strain the roots out and pour the resulting tea into a 2 quart sized jar.  Add:

1/3 c maple syrup

1/3 c sucanot (evaporated cane syrup).

4 c water at room temperature.  

Make sure that the resulting blend is cool enough that you can touch it comfortably, ala “blood warm.” so that you don’t kill your culture.  When it is cool enough, add:

1/2 c water kefir grains.

Stir, and cover with a cloth so that the mixture can breathe, but flies can’t get in.  Allow to sit for 2 days, stirring a couple times a day if you remember.  Before this brew is fully fermented, it is almost repulsively bitter, but I find it delicious when finished.  My boyfriend thinks it is still too bitter now.  If this is the case for you, play with reducing the amount of gentian root and increasing the amount of licorice for sweetness or dandelion for a more neutral taste.   After two days, bottle the mixture and let it build up pressure in the bottles for another day.  Don’t let it build up too much fizz, or you will lose half your drink when you open the bottles!  Then, store in the fridge until you are ready to drink.

Right after bottling: I poured the brew into two bottles and reserved a little to consume right away. The bottles sat out another day to build up more bubbles.

About Gentian Root (Gentiana lutea):

The following information is sourced from the New Holisitic Herbal by David Hoffman, which was recommended to me by the girl at Flower Power, where I bought my gentian root and my sarsaparilla.

Gentian Root,is a bitter which, like all bitters, stimulates the appetite and digestion via a stimulation of digestive juices, including saliva (sialagogue), gastric juices, and bile (cholagogue).  It is helpful for balancing a sluggish digestive system and lack of appetite.  Sluggish digestion symptoms that gentian is useful for include dyspepsia and flatulence.

Gentian flower.

About Sarsaparilla (Smilax officinalis):  

Sarsaparilla is often used as a general tonic to improve overall function in the body.  It is indicated for skin irritation, particularly psoriasis, as well as rheumatoid arthritis.

Sarsaparilla, image borrowed from

3 Responses to “Root Beer with Moxie: recipe updated on 6/9/12”

  1. Will July 27, 2013 at 5:48 pm #

    Where to begin? I find your blog entertaining yet poignant. I am originally from Long Island and my Grandmother lived in Brooklyn on 52nd just southeast of the 52nd and 53rd intersection in Kings, a block from Kings Plaza. When I was 5 “and a half” we moved to “rural” Jersey, Sussex county, Vernon area. Our neighbor who lived in a period colonel carriage house used to make his own home made root beer in crockery. I was just wandering the internet with fond memories of his home brew and came across your site on a Goggle search for sarsaparilla under Goggle Images. Picked your pic at random, but saw the moniker and had to give you kudos for logging your results for people like me to find.



  1. Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra): Today’s featured ingredient. « Brooklyn Alewife - July 23, 2012

    […] written a bit on Sassafras, Sarsaparilla, and Gentian within the context of a few recipes, but I have yet to highlight licorice (sometimes […]

  2. Smilax ornata | Find Me A Cure - May 25, 2014

    […] Root Beer with Moxie: recipe updated on 6/9/12 […]

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