I remember going into a local store in Shenzhen, one that usually had an array of different drinks and almost losing my shit when I saw Sarsi. Sarsi is one of my favorite drinks from the Philippines. How did it end up in China? But more importantly what exactly is Sarsi?
Let’s talk about that!
Sarsi comes from the Sarsaparilla family of drinks, which much like Coca-Cola, started as pseudo-science health drinks, but later developed into well, basically a soft-drink.
Much like Royal, Sarsi had its roots in the Philippines.
Sarsi is made by the Cosmos Bottling Corporation that was formed as Manila Aerated Water Company in 1918. Obviously and like every other popular drink company in the world, they are now a subsidiary of Coca-Cola, but Sarsi at least is indigenous to the Philippines.
As legend say (well more opinion), another drink that has the unique taste of Sarsi compared to other mere inferior Sarsaparillas is the sugar substitute Saccharin. Although no one knows or really cares what the actual truth is.
Nowadays, though it is one of the main drinks of the Philippines next to Coke, Sprite, and Royal (the Filipino Fanta), it is available in fast food stores from Jolibee to America’s finest McDonalds, I mean Burger King, or Wendy’s! Whatever.
But the real test for any drink is not whether I can find it in a fast-food restaurant, nor if one can buy it from a corner store in Shenzhen, but how it goes with alcohol.
I’m personally a huge fan of Dr. Pepper with vodka, but for Sarsi, you have to get all indigenous and mix it with the “world’s best rum” Tanduay. At worst it works with Fundador (the cheapest brandy available).
So, that’s Sarsi in the Philippines, give it a try, you just might like it!
UPDATE – I recently found my first Chinese knock-off Sasparilia in Foshan, Guangdong. It was no Sarsi, but not that bad either.