Root Beer, or Sasparilla to the rest of you, is an amazing substance. It kind of tastes like EUTHYMOL. But I wouldn't put Euthymol on my ice cream, which one can do with Root Beer!
I hear one can acquire A&W brand Root Beer from one of the China Town convenient stores in Soho for the normal price of a canned beverage. Other than this, I'm not sure where to get it. It seems a taste unfamiliar to the British tongue, and when offered in a way similar to Marmite pushers, can be met with considerable hostility.
It is an old flavor. Spicy, but not reedy. There is a nasal component to the drink which perhaps only Americans can appreciate, being the nasal speakers that we are. The Root Beer Float is yet another step away from the European sensibility. It's an honest, messy and unrefined treat. It comes in a large glass mug. Root Beer poured from a fountain yields the best results; there being too many bubbles in the canned and bottled variety. A heaping spoonful of Vanilla ice cream is then lowered into the mug, bubbling and frothing up around the rim and overflowing the sticky contents onto the expecting napkins.
The Root Beer Float is a quick pint on the way home. It's full of empty calories and requires a minimum 7-10 minutes of my time. I must stop and reflect. My busy day compartmentalized into little freezing bites and slurps. Towards the end, I can down the last bits of melted ice cream and foam in the same continuous movement I finish a Guinness. And with my cheeks full I pause, take in the room, place my glass down on the bar and stand. Bag in hand I walk out the door feeling neutral and smooth, like a hinge recently greased.