When preparing a trip to the Dominican Republic, we all hope to find paradisiacal beaches with crystal clear water and soft sand. But as soon as the plane lands at the airport we discover that the Caribbean country has much more to offer. Friendly people whose joy infects anyone, an immeasurable historical and cultural wealth and, of course, a rich gastronomic repertoire.
Today we want to talk to you about just that, about one of the emblematic drinks of the Dominican Republic that has gained worldwide fame . Many attribute healing powers to it and many others even claim that it is a powerful aphrodisiac. What is undeniable is that the Dominican mamajuana has a magical flavor that enchants visitors and locals alike.The Dominican Republic is recognized throughout the world for its tobacco and rum exports. And it is precisely rum that is one of the main components of this delicious traditional drink. You want to know more? In this article we will tell you everything you need to know about the “Dominican mamajuana drink” as it is known by English speakers.
What is the mamajuana?
Mamajuana is a traditional alcoholic beverage from the Dominican Republic that is prepared with rum, wine, honey, and different herbs, bark, and spices. Its flavor perfectly combines the sweetness of honey and the liquid fire of Dominican rum. Some compare mamajuana to amaro or port , but the comparison doesn’t do its complex combination of flavors justice.
For a time, mamajuana was considered a medicinal preparation to which different properties were attributed. However, today, the mamajuana has become one of the favorite alcoholic beverages of Dominicans. It is usually taken as a digestive, chatting with friends in the afternoon or during a nocturnal celebration.Previously, the drink was only accessible to those visitors who dared to explore the Dominican Republic outside of the “all-inclusive” packages. However, in recent years, mamajuana has gained great popularity and is sold in almost all supermarkets and restaurants in the country.
History of the mamajuana: the elixir of love
The versions about the origin of the mamajuana are as diverse as the cultural richness of the Caribbean country. Several researchers and historians believe that mamajuana was originally a herbal tea that the Taino Indians used to cure various ailments. According to some authors, the tea was effective in curing the flu, coughing, and relieving muscle aches and headaches.
Other scholars point out that the origin of the mamajuana occurred in the 16th century with the arrival of African slaves. The theory holds that the mulattoes prepared a drink by mixing different roots and herbs in alcohol . The resulting drink was sweetened with honey or molasses from sugar cane and drunk as a remedy.
Regarding the origin of the name, there are several legends that try to answer this question. One version ensures that it comes from the French dame-jeanne as well as the “damajuana”, the container to store liquid where it was supposedly prepared.
Another urban legend claims that the mamajuana owes its name to an old healer named Juana who had 15 children. Some locals say that Doña Juana improved the ancestral recipe and added aphrodisiac properties that allowed her to get so many offspring.
Mamajuana won the hearts and palates of Dominicans and the recipe was passed down from generation to generation. During the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo, certain regulations were established to sell the drink. From 1930 to 1961 only those with a medical license could legally sell mamajuana .In the middle of this period, Jesús Rodríguez began to prepare his ready-to-drink version and toured the entire country selling it. His version became famous for including tortoiseshell, a premium ingredient that promised to enhance virility. Many recognize him as the author of the modern version of the mamajuana and for being one of the first to sell it in the 1950s.
Receta de la bebida dominicana mamajuana
Although there are various brands that sell ready-to-drink bottles, the authentic mamajuana is a homemade preparation. Some places sell their own version to order or kits for tourists to prepare to their liking. Below we share our recipe for the mamajuana, the drink that drives Dominicans and foreigners alike crazy .
- Dominican rum
- sweet wine
- Guayacán root and bark
- Stick stick (expensive liana)
- Timacle (boar liana)
- Juana la blanca
- Water stick (Brazil wood)
- sweet clove
- Star anise
Mamajuana is a relatively simple drink to prepare, although the process holds a few secrets . It is very common that, after a few test sips, tourists buy a bottle to prepare it. When they get home they try it and discover a bitter taste that has nothing to do with the sweetness they tasted in the Dominican Republic .
Well, now we will explain why this is and everything you should do to make sure you prepare the best mamajuana:
- First of all, you must cure the roots, barks and herbs that you will use in your mamajuana. Doing it is simple, you just have to put them in a bottle and add “bad rum”, although some people prefer to use wine or gin.
- Let the bitter taste of the barks, roots, and herbs cure in the liquor for at least 7 days.
- After this time you can remove the liquor from the bottle. Dominican grandparents recommend keeping it and drinking it on an empty stomach “to cleanse the liver” . However, its taste is excessively bitter and can be unpleasant for some, so it can be thrown away.
- Once the herbs, roots and barks are cured, they must be macerated using wine and honey.
- The maceration with wine and honey must last at least 7 days, after which the wine is thrown away.
- At this point, the herbs and roots are ready for the final preparation.
- Add the Dominican rum of your choice, wine, honey, star anise, ginger and raisins to taste.
- Wait 7 days and shake the bottle 2 times a day to distribute the flavors evenly.
- At the end of the 7 days your mamajuana will be ready to drink and enjoy.
Variants of mamajuana
As we told you before, mamajuana is a traditional recipe that has been passed down from generation to generation. The mamajuana that you try in Santo Domingo will be different from that of Punta Cana , La Romana , Samaná or Santiago de los Caballeros . This diversity is part of the drink’s appeal and invites you to rediscover it in every part of the country.There are versions of mamajuana that prefer to use white rum instead of aged amber. The variety of herbs and roots used is as diverse as the culture within the island . Likewise, a variant that replaces the herbs and roots with seafood is very popular.
Alternative recipes: cocktails with mamajuana
Mamajuana has become an excellent alternative ingredient to create different cocktails. Here we share some recipes in which you can include this delicious drink to take it to the next level:
Mojito with mamajuana
A flavor mix that promises to refresh you even on the hottest day of summer. To prepare it you will need:
- 2 ounces of mamajuana (version prepared with white rum )
- 8 mint leaves
- 1 lemon
- 2 teaspoons of sugar
- Crushed ice
Place the mint leaves and sugar in a glass. Squeeze the lemon and mix the three ingredients well without destroying the mint. Add ice until half the glass is filled and then the mamajuana . Mix well and fill the rest of the glass with ice. To finish add soda and more mint to decorate.
It’s a Caribbean sunrise trapped in a ready-to-drink cocktail wherever you are. You will only need:
It’s a Caribbean sunrise trapped in a ready-to-drink cocktail wherever you are. You will only need:
- 2 ounces of mamajuana (the version prepared with white rum )
- 1 ounce orange juice
- ½ ounce red grape juice
- ½ ounce sour mix
- 1 cherry
- Orange slices to decorate
Place the mamajuana in a tall glass and add the grape juice. Then add the orange juice along with the sour mix and mix. Decorate the drink with the orange slice and the cherry .
CubaLibre a la mamajuana
A classic with a little very Dominican twist. You can prepare it with:
- 2 ounces of mamajuana (the variant with dark rum )
- 1 lemon
- Cola drink
- Lemon slices to decorate
In a glass, place several ice cubes and add the mamajuana and then squeeze the lemon. Fill the rest of the glass with cola and add several lemon wedges to decorate.
Hispaniola latte from mamajuana
A sophisticated drink that promises to enchant all your senses . To do it you only need:
- 2 ounces of mamajuana (prepared from aged rum )
- 2 ounces of cold coffee
- 1 ounce almond milk
- ½ ounce pistachio syrup
- cinnamon stick
- Coffee grains
Place the mamajuana, coffee, almond milk and pistachio syrup in the shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously. Serve in a tall glass and decorate with some coffee beans and the cinnamon stick.
Where can you buy mamajuana?
It is common to find ready-to-drink mamajuana in almost any supermarket within the Dominican Republic. A large number of restaurants offer it on their liquor menu as a traditional alcoholic beverage .
It is also possible to find vendors offering bottles with the characteristic herbs and spices of the mamajuana inside. These bottles include the instructions that must be followed to prepare the traditional drink.
Mamajuana ready to drink
For some years the mamajuana has been marketed inside and outside the Dominican Republic in different presentations. Here are some of the most popular brands .
- Candela : it is characterized by using a high quality Dominican rum with the characteristic herbs, spices and honey. You can check more about the product on its Candela website .
- Anteroz – is a premium brand of mamajuana that is sold internationally. If you miss the taste of mamajuana and you are not in the Dominican Republic, then Anteroz is for you.
Kalembu – It is one of the most popular among locals and is found in almost any market in the country. To learn more about the product, visit the official Kalembu website .
4 curiosities about the mamajuana
There is an endless list of stories and legends surrounding this delicious traditional drink. In yourdominicanguide we made a list with the four most curious stories about the Dominican mamajuana:
ambrosia of the muses
The mamajuana has inspired different artists over the years, there is even a musical group with the same name . The group was founded by Dominican composer Eddy González and combines romantic lyrics with Caribbean and contemporary rhythms . The drink is also mentioned in various musical themes, such as ” El Tigueron ” by Jossie Esteban and the Patrol 15.
The dictator’s favorite?
Some Dominican grandparents say that despite having regulated its sale between 1930 and 1961, the dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo drank it daily. They even claim that he shared it with his circle of relatives and occasionally with politicians from other countries who visited him.
An aphrodisiac potion
In the previous sections we told you about the story of old Juana. The story goes that she managed to have 15 children because she gave her husband a drink every night. It has not been proven that the drink increases sexual potency, but there are Juana and her 15 children.
A playboy’s elixir
BBC Rights .One of Rafael Trujillo’s inner circle was Porfirio Rubirosa, a race car driver and polo player. His history with women is legendary, as he had 5 wives. Locals consider him a Caribbean playboy because of his lifestyle, commenting that he was a fan of the mamajuana .