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Jul 17, 2007 09:31 AM

Old-School Rootbeer in TO?

So The Boy and I were talking the other night about fond childhood food memories, and he got a little nostalgic for an old-fashioned soda place he used to visit on camping trips up north.

Now we've both got a wicked bad craving for old-school root beer - and by this, I mean the kind that's actually made from homemade syrup and mixed with soda on the spot - no artificial flavourings or colourings, please. More specifically, we've got a wicked bad craving for a float made from said old-school root beer.

So, is there anywhere in TO where you can still find a proper root beer float? Barring that, someplace that sells bottled root beer made the old-fashioned way, which can be made into floats at home?

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  1. Cajun Corner, on Queen east, sells the concentrated syrup, together with instructions on how to make batches.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Snarf

      Perfect! My only concern would be that the syrup would still include artificial flavourings... but if it's made the old-fashioned way with natural flavourings, I'm on it like a fat kid on a smartie.
      I'm often in that neck of the woods, so I'll probably give it a look-see (if anything, it'll be an excuse to grab some brunch at Cafe Vert or Bonjour Biotch err... Brioche)

      1. re: tartiflette

        If you find out, please do let us know. I would trek over to pick some up if it was natural!

    2. The original comment has been removed
      1. I've been on a rootbeer kick lately myself....
        Boylan's (larady referenced) makes prety good rootbeer and birch beer (this stuff is wicked), and is available a lot of places. I get mine at Sun Valley on the Danforth, and further noticed it at Balzac's in the Distillery on the weekend.

        Virgil's is another amazing rootbeer, and I have purchased it at Bruno's (Yonge and St. Clair). At $3/bottle, I'm not buying it in bulk, but it topped a recent Chowhound list of good old-fashion rootbeers.

        Both Boylan's and Virgils use cane sugar to sweeten, and authentic ingredients to flavour (sasparilla etc.). I was amazed at the difference between these and large scale commercial rootbeers. Never going back.

        3 Replies
        1. re: bluedog

          Boylan's actually makes 2 different Root Beers. The "Natural" one (with the orange & tan logo) uses all natural, old style ingredients. The other one (with the tan-only logo) uses "natural & artificial flavors", although it still uses cane sugar. Both are good, but I prefer the "Natural" one when I can find it.

          1. re: gregclow

            Thanks for the tip! Sun Valley is just down the street from me, so I shall pop over (pun intended) sometime during the week to see if Boylan's lives up to its reputation. Hopefully they'll have the "natural" version - that's really what I'm after.

            1. re: tartiflette

              Pick up a bottle of Birch Beer while your there. I prefer it over the root beer. Not sure if its the all-natural or the other they have there.

        2. If anyone knows of a place in Toronto that sells the Boylan's Natural line, please let us know. I just read about it on their website and I'd really love to get my hands on some!

          3 Replies
          1. re: vorpal

            I've seen it at various times in Pusateri's on Avenue. And Whole Foods carries a wide variety of flavours of their regular line. Most of which are delicious. My favourite brand of soda.

            1. re: vorpal

              I have seen it at the Big Carrot.

              1. re: vorpal

                So I was in Magnolia on College this morning and noticed they sell what looks like the entire line of Boylan's - root beer, cherry, birch beer, cream soda, orange, etc. I did notice that the root beer was definitley the natural line, but didn't really scope of the rest too closely. I didn't see the price, but I did pay $1.99 for a bottle of Hank's gourmet root beer (philadelphia recipe?) and a vanilla cream soda - so I imagine it's around that. They are also made with cane sugar. I recently finished off the root beer and I have to say it was a refreshing beverage - not too sweet.

              2. So here's a followup.

                After the chorus of agreement on Boylan's, I swung up to Pusateri's on Bay St during my lunch. They do indeed carry the brand, and for only $1.69 at Pusi's, it's pretty much on par with what a bottle of Coke seems to go for these days.

                The bad news: the all-natural root beer is not available there (their regular version is, however). The good news: the all-natural birch beer IS!

                It's delicious. Everything I hoped for. On the way home, I'm going to check in at Sun Valley to see if I can find this elusive all-natural (and if The Boy is lucky, maybe I'll let him have a bottle). :)

                1 Reply
                1. re: tartiflette

                  You inspired me to run by Bruno's at lunch and pick up a Virgil's. Wow that's good rootbeer, and I confirmed all natural. I still prefer Boylans's birch beer. It packs an interesting punch. In fact, I'm gonna stop by Sun Valley tonight and pick some up!