Vodka

Spirit Spotlight: Kenya's Dawa Cocktail

Kenya is known for its great climate, the amazing Maasai Mara and of course, the Dawa cocktail. Since "Dawa" is Swahili for "medicine", this famous cocktail is said to cure all ailments. I can't vouch for that, but I can vouch for how delicious and potent it is.

History of The Dawa

The recipe is based on famous Brazilian cocktail, the Caipirinha, and was introduced to Kenya in 1980's by the Carnivore Restaurant. Samson Kivelenge, who has worked at The Carnivore Restaurant in Nairobi since it opened in 1980, is credited with naming the cocktail. Today he’s more commonly known as Dr. Dawa. He travels from table to table wearing a tray carrying everything needed to make the cocktail. While I was in Kenya, I had the pleasure of enjoying several dawas and none were as good as Dr. Dawa's. Seriously.

Dr. Dawa, Samson Kivelenge

Dr. Dawa, Samson Kivelenge

Instead of cachaça (Brazilian rum), the Dawa uses vodka, similar to another famous cocktail, the Caprioska. But what sets the Dawa apart is the African honey that's added and makes a huge difference in the taste. Dr. Dawa uses a short bamboo stick to add the honey in addition to using it as a muddler. Genius. So how can you get a taste of Kenya at home?

Dawa Cocktail Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp of honey
  • 2 shots of vodka
  • 1 tsp of brown sugar
  • 1 whole lime quarter with skin on
  • 1 stick of bamboo for muddling

Instructions:

  1. Place lime chunks, honey and sugar in a rocks glass.
  2. Muddle slightly with the bamboo just enough to release the lime juice and mix with the honey and sugar.
  3. Add vodka and some crushed ice; stir to combine ingredients.
  4. Add more ice until the glass is full, then garnish with a lime wheel.

The Dawa has become a Kenyan mainstay and is enjoyed everywhere around the country, and even some surrounding countries. Since it's so refreshing, people usually drink it after a safari expedition or during sundown (happy hour). If you're ever in Kenya, trying the Dawa is a must. And when you head to Carnivore Restaurant in Nairobi, be sure to tell Dr. Dawa we sent you. Cheers!

5 of my all-time favorite destinations.png

Cocktail of the Month: Black-Eyed Susan Cocktail for Preakness

The Preakness Stakes is the second leg of the American thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown series, the first and third being the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, respectively. Preakness happens on the third Saturday in May each year in Baltimore, Maryland and because Baltimore is my hometown, I know what a big deal the festivities are.

The Black-Eyed Susan Cocktail is the official cocktail of the Preakness and is named for the blanket of yellow flowers altered to resemble Maryland's state flower placed around the winner's neck. The cocktail reminds me of a sweeter Screwdriver.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 3 tablespoons vodka
  • 3 tablespoons light rum
  • 2 tablespoons orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier)
  • Crushed ice
  • Garnishes: lime slices, fresh cherries

Instructions: 

  1. Stir together first 5 ingredients. Fill 2 (12-oz.) glasses with crushed ice.
  2. Pour orange juice mixture over ice.
  3. Garnish, if desired. Serve immediately.

This year's Preakness is May 20th and since you can't be there, now you can make your own at home. Cheers!

Photo Credit: Cocktail Crafty

Photo Credit: Cocktail Crafty