In the Philippines, Sarsi is a brand name for a sarsi drink manufactured by Cosmos Bottling Corporation, a local company that is now a subsidiary of Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines, Inc. Cosmos Bottling Corporation was established in 1918, first known as Manila Aerated Water Company.
Its unique taste that separates it from other Sarsaparilla based soft drinks (Root Beer) is attributed to the use of the sugar substitute, Saccharin. Even though in its "Regular" formula contains HFC (Hi Fructose Corn Syrup) or Can Sugar.
In Hong Kong, Sarsae (沙示) is the most popular brand of the sarsi drink. It is manufactured and distributed by the A.S. Watson Group, which pioneered in carbonated beverages in Hong Kong. The drink was the central plot device of a 1985 film called It's a Drink, It's a Bomb (starring George Lam, John Sham and Maggie Cheung), about a hand grenade disguised as a Sarsae cola. Its explosive power is activated once its ringpull is released.
In China, the drink's introduction can be traced back to the 1920s, when A.S. Watson began producing sarsi in Shanghai and other Chinese cities. In the 1930s, Li Zhiyang (李智扬), Li Guanling (李冠玲), Huang Youtong (黄油桶), Liang Hanqi (梁汉奇), and Wang Zhensan (王震山) were among eleven people who had worked in Watson's Canton and founded Asian Waters in Guangzhou to continue producing Sarsi there and in other mainland Chinese locations. Some of these were sold to Hong Kong and Macau as well. Asian Waters now seldom produces sarsi drinks.
It is available in three varieties:
- Regular - regular sarsaparilla flavor.
- Sweetie Energy - sweet and mellow, similar to A&W cream soda, but with added guarana extract.
- Salty - significantly more salty and bitter aftertaste, like Barq's root beer in the US.
There are two local brands offering their own sarsi drink:
- Chuơng Duơng Sá Xị by Chuong Duong Beverages.
- Wonderfarm Zizy by Interfood Shareholding Company.
- Jinn's Publishers et al. "Omoshiro Temakan Meguri No.4: HeySong Soft Drink Museum". Nãruhodo The Taiwan. Vol. 235. October 2006.
- F&N Beverages Marketing Sdn Bhd
- HeySong Corporation
- Suntory-Pepsico Vietnam Beverage
- Chuong Duong Beverages (Vietnam)
- Coca-Cola SABCO Group