Court Avenue Brewing Company's top-selling drink, the Root Down, sounds simple enough: Jagermeister and root beer. That said, pouring some Jager in a Dixie cup and slopping some Hy-Vee-brand root beer on top of it will not lead you to the single most awesome drinking experience of your life. Taking a seat at the downtown brewery and asking a bartender to pour you the drink in a baby pilsner glass, however, might.
The secret: CABCO has been brewing its own root beer for about 10 years, said bar manager Rob Follett. Made using pure cane sugar and Iowa honey, it's not a diet drink. It's luxurious, smooth and won't give you the burps. "It's a luxury drink," Follett says. "The chemicals to make it diet would ruin it."
The ratio: Follett's been making the Root Down for about three years. He hits the Jager machine first, and fills the glass almost halfway. Next to the Jager machine is the root beer tap, where he tops off the five-ounce glass.
Drink your root down: In front of me, the Root Down looks like a dark stout. Little head, almost creamy. For some reason, the darkness makes it look warm. A wandering bartender insists the Root Down is made to be taken down in one raise, so I oblige. At first, sweet, smooth root beer. At the end, a small bite of Jager. Overall, delicious.
The imitators: You could order a poor man's Root Down (with the aforementioned generic root beer) at another bar. Follett turns up his nose at the thought of that. Once in a while, he says, a bartender at a downtown bar like Shorty's will stop by CABCO, buy a growler of root beer, and make the real deal at his bar. If you like the real one at CABCO enough, buy a shirt that pays homage to the drink. It's adorned with the Jagermeister deer and the Beastie Boys' lyric, "kick a root down." It'll set you back $16.95 plus tax.
Cost: A Root Down is five bucks, except during late night happy hour (11 p.m.-2 a.m.), when it's $3.