Saturday, November 18, 2017

Play hard with Mamajuana

Mamajuana - the herbal alcoholic beverage of choice in the Dominican Republic


In the Dominican Republic, at the end of nearly every restaurant meal the waiter will offer you a Mamajuana. This typically Dominican concoction is a herbal alcoholic drink that can either be sipped or downed a s a shot. It is said to have all kinds of beneficial health effects and it is often praised as a Dominican liquid Viagra. Some people love it and others hate it but you definitely need to try it at least once.


This smooth beverage makes for a great of ending after a good meal

What is it made of
Originally prepared as a herbal tea by the native Taino Indians, alcohol was added to the recipe post-Columbus. The solid ingredients (local leaves, sticks and roots) vary from region to region but usually include star aniseed, sweet basil, cinnamon, princess vine, agave leaves and timacle.

The mixture of bark and herbs is then left to soak in rum (most often dark rum but the use of white rum is not uncommon), red wine and honey. Sometimes other ingredients are added including , raisins, strawberries, molasses, and lime juice. Some recipes include the addition of mariscos (shellfish) such as conch, octopus snails, grated tortoiseshell and even the private parts of a sea turtle! Undoubtedly the combination of these ingredients is what provides Mamajuana with its rare powers.

Alleged health benefits
Dominicans believe this drink is to cure to a lot of health problems. It is supposedly the answer to the typical “gripe”, or common cold, that does its rounds at least twice a year among the complete Dominican population. It is also said to help with digestion and blood circulation and is supposed to be a blood cleanser, and kidney and liver tonic.

And of course, its biggest claim to fame is that it’s an aphrodisiac. Some people swear by it.

Make your own mamajuana with pre-packaged roots and sticksMaking your own Mamajuana
On the beach and in stores you will be offered the possibility to buy bottles with all the roots, bark and herbs necessary to make your own mamajuana. The only thing you need to do is add rum, red wine and honey… To make your Mamajuana a tasty one just following these basic steps:

When making a new bottle, before adding the rum, you need to “cure” the wood. One way this is done is by adding cheap gin or white rum to the bottle and letting it sit for a minimum of two to six weeks to get the bitterness out. Then you can pour out the gin and add your rum.
You can also cure the wood with red wine and honey, or if you like it really sweet let it soak in honey water. Again you need to let the concoction sit for two to six weeks, then pour out the liquid and replace it with dark rum.  

Instead of just using rum you can make the drink a bit sweeter and smoother by adding a mixture of rum on the one hand and red wine with honey on the other in equal measures.  

Let this new mixture sit for another 12 to 15 weeks and then enjoy your homemade Mamajuana!

Sometimes, the first batch still comes out a little on the bitter side; however, with each additional batch made, the concoction is supposed to get smoother. It may take a couple of batches for you to decide how you like it best.  You can pour it off once steeped to your taste and get the next batch going.  The longer you leave it to steep, the stronger the flavor will be.

Mamajuana, also known as liquid ViagraNothing is set in stone
Feel free to add or discard some of the ingredients, there is no real set recipe. Also, sometimes, instead of using dark rum, people use white, or a mixture of both. Even the length of time needed to cure the initial bottle is debatable as is the length of time required for the finished concoction to settle before drinking.

It is also debatable how long a specific bottle can last and how many times it can be reused. Some people claim that the average bottle can be refilled 15 to 20 times while others swear that there is no limit to how many times a bottle can be refilled.

How to serve Mamajuana
The brew is usually kept at room temperature and served in a shot glass. Some people like to drink it over ice, dilute it with water or mix it with coke. Others like to mix it with fruit juice or as use it as you would use rum in a cocktail.

Usually, however, it is taken as an after dinner liqueur. Whatever your preference, there is no wrong way to drink Mamajuana. Enjoy!!

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