|The Mugs Up Drive-In in Independence makes its own root beer|
To whet your appetite for The Pitch's annual Best of Kansas City issue, we're counting down our favorite Top 50 dishes each weekday until October 7.
For over a half-century, the orange-and-white loose-burger stand at 700 East 23rd Street in Independence -- Bill and Ann's Mugs Up Drive-In -- has been been serving Zip burgers, Whiz burgers, hot dogs, chili dogs, homemade orange drink and the house specialty, root beer.
There's no other beverage in town quite like it. The house-made brew is spicy, earthy ... truly rooty-tasting.
Long before the owners of Mugs Up started making their own root beer, the best way to concoct the fizzy beverage was to make it at home. In 1876, a Philadelphia druggist named Charles Hires began packaging a mixture of dried roots and berries that anyone could use to make root beer by cooking up the dried roots, straining the liquid, adding sugar and yeast and letting it ferment for several days.
When the passionate people of America's temperance movement started making life miserable for saloons, some business owners began selling root beer instead of the alcoholic variety. Like that other popular carbonated concoction, root beer caught on.
The best way to drink the brew -- like real beer -- is in a frosty cold mug, a specialty at Mugs Up. The drive-in also sells the beverage by the quart and the gallon.
Our list so far:
No. 49: Il Parma from Bella Napoli
No. 42: Apple strudel from Grunauer
No. 40: E-Crush from Hi-Hat Coffee
No. 34: Stroud's cinnamon rolls
No. 33: Smoked Polish from Werner's
No. 27: Spring rolls from Vietnam Cafe