Creating a new cocktail is quite a challenge given the thousands of mixologists around the world, who are all experimenting on a daily basis with combining various flavors to invent a new drink. It seems impossible and, therefore, today’s challenge.
I tried to think of the most obscure liquor (or liqueur) to start with, assuming that would make my research easier to find combinations that have not yet been mixed into a cocktail. I then remembered our last bottle of Amarula that we had brought back from South Africa about three years ago. It’s so good that we have used it sparingly on special occasions.
Amarula is made from wild Marula fruit, which is indigenous to South Africa. The small yellow fruit is hand-picked, fermented, distilled and matured in French oak barrels before it is blended with cream to create Amarula Cream. The locals joke that monkeys and elephants walk for miles to get drunk on ripened Marula fruit, which the trees produce only once a year.
We were first introduced to Amarula on our honeymoon in Tanzania in 2014. It tastes a little bit like a fruity Bailey’s Irish cream and is served in every hotel and camp we visited. We brought home our first bottle and finished it in that first year, mostly combining it with coffee for an after-dinner aperitif.
We were so impacted by the wonders of safariing in the Serengeti and Ngongoro Ngongoro Crater that we couldn’t wait to go back. There are no words to describe the immense, expansive feelings of watching elephants, lions, zebra, giraffe, rhinos and hyenas in the wild. I recognize there are millions of places to visit and experience in the world, but Africa is on a whole other level of beauty and peace. So when the next year rolled around and we asked ourselves where we wanted to vacation, Africa was our immediate answer.
In order to explore a new and different part of Africa, we chose South Africa. We planned a week in Cape Town, then a week safari in Kruger National Park before finishing up with a few days at Lake Victoria, which borders Zimbabwe and Zambia. During our stay at Kapama camp in Kruger Park, we chose to do an excursion to ride orphaned elephants at Camp Jabulani.
Sebakwe, the elephant we were chosen to ride, happened to be the model for the Amarula bottle label. It was fate! Of course we then brought two more bottles of Amarula home with us and enjoyed telling our friends we served it to that we rode the elephant on the label.
I could go on and on about Africa for days, but we have a cocktail to create!
Given the unique flavor of Amarula, and its scarcity relative to other liqueurs, I conducted a few internet searches to see what cocktails had already been invented. Here’s what I found:
Amarula’s Corporate Site boasts creating a specialty cocktail based on your unique tastes and mood. My result was a Storm in a Short. The additional ingredients include bourbon, ginger, honey and half-and-half. They were spot on with recommending bourbon…yum.
The common connections among the various recipes seemed to include at least one of the following: coffee/espresso, ice cream, tropical fruit, hazelnut, amaretto, gin, vodka, brandy, bourbon, mint and chocolate.
I still have some dairy free coconut ice cream remaining from another Elation Explorer experience, which builds off the creaminess of Amarula, yet unique to my own ice cream creation due to the coconut milk. I also have a lavender simple syrup and creme de violette, which I didn’t see as a flavor in any of the recipes (which may be for a reason –we shall see).
Attempt #1: Take Me Back to Africa
1 Shot – Amarula
1 Shot – Bourbon
3/4 oz – Lavender Simple Syrup
Shaken w/ ice and served chilled in a high ball.
Husband’s Comment: “Not bad.”
My Comment: “Mmmm…I’d drink that!”
Attempt #2: Zanzibar Rock (nod to The Rock Restaurant in Zanzibar)
4 Shots – Amarula
3 Scoops – Dairy Free Coconut Ice Cream
1 Shot – Creme de Violette
Blend in a blender. Serve in a high ball.
Husband’s Comment: “Very good. Tastes like an Amarula Pina Colada.”
Mine: “That’s good too!”
Attempt 3: Asanja (nod to our honeymoon at Asanja Camp)
2 Shots – Amarula
1 Scoop – Dairy Free Coconut Ice Cream
1 Shot – Bourbon
3/4 oz – Almond Orgeat Syrup
1 tsp – Caramel
1 dash – Cinnamon
Husband’s Comment: “Ew, I can taste the almond. I don’t like it. It’s funky.” (I should have guessed he wouldn’t like the almond.)
Mine: “All good stuff in this right here!”
Of the three, Take Me Back to Africa was the strongest and Zanzibar Rock was the tamest. Asanja is my favorite. All three tasted delish to me, but I also recognize I’m biased toward the flavors I used. Someone may have already combined them, but as far as I know, these three are unique. I hope you enjoy them too!
Side Note: As of April 2017, Camp Jabulani has stopped providing elephant-back safaris. The origin of the herd of their orphaned elephants was a result of a rescue by Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre (HESC) in 2002. For more info on why the decision was made, click here.