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I don't drink a lot of soda but when I do I almost always reach for root beer. It's a classic drink that has been around since the late 1800s and it's full of deep, nuanced flavors. Making it at home is easy once you obtain the ingredients, most of which I ordered online from the websites in the Ingredient and Tool Sources section. This recipe makes a thick, sweet syrup you can mix with club soda, use in cocktails, or naturally ferment.
Sometimes I will leave out the brown sugar and use the root beer infusion similar to weak bitters. It's a tasty, sugar-free drink when combined with club soda and it's also a great way to add complexity to cocktails that don't need more sweetness.
One disclaimer, in the 1960s the government removed sassafras from root beer recipes because when taken by mice in large quantities (the equivalent of five 2-liter bottles a day) the safrole in it was correlated with liver cancer. It has since been replaced by wintergreen. Of course, basil and nutmeg have safrole too but if you are uncomfortable using it feel free to substitute it in this recipe with wintergreen.
Combine everything but the sugar in a pot and bring to a simmer. Let simmer 20 minutes then stir in the brown sugar and cook until dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool for 60 minutes then strain.
The syrup will last in the refrigerator for several weeks.