The Dawa: The African ‘magic potion’

Africa. There’s no place in the world that has wildlife, wide landscapes and ancient traditions like this continent does. It’s a magical place that can’t be compared to any other. Unfortunately, we can’t experience this magic ourselves at the moment, so we had to find a way to bring Africa into our homes. And here it is: The Dawa. As the story goes, you’ll find Africa’s magic wrapped in this classis Kenyan cocktail. A refreshing drink with a special story. A taste of Africa!

The Story
Let’s start with the name of this signature cocktail. ‘Dawa’ means ‘medicine’ or ‘magic potion’ in Swahili. Legend has it that the cocktail can cure anything. Whether you have a tough week at work, are hit by a writer’s block or have a cold; Dawa cures it all. The Dawa is inspired by the Brazilian Caipirinha cocktail. However, de Dawa is made of vodka instead of cachaça. The story goes that people in Kenya found it too difficult to pronounce ‘caipiroska’ - as the drink is called in Latin-America. To  make it easier, the drink was called ‘Dawa’. 

The mix of vodka, lime, ice, sugar and Kenyan honey was first made at ‘the Carnivore Restaurant’ in Nairobi. This restaurant is known for the sizzling meat they serve (including wild such as crocodile and ostrich). So while the Carnivore Restauranyt’s Dawa is inspired by a different cocktail, it still has its own Kenyan twist to it. The Dawa is not a Dawa without the ‘Dawa Stick’! This is a stirring stick covered in honey and sometimes even decorated with beads. You use the stick to stir the honey and sugar in the drink. It is said that the stick is where all the magic of the cocktail is hidden… 

To this day, drinking the Dawa cocktail at sunset is considered a real happy hour tradition in East Africa. 

Africa
The surface and diversity of the continent, make it nearly impossible to select only 7 places to add to your Africa bucket-list. There’s no doubt this list could be much longer, but here’s a sneak peek at 7 of the most iconic places in Africa you don’t want to miss out on. 

  • Masai Mara National Park, Kenya
  • This park is full of spectacular landscapes, colourful cultures and it offers the opportunity to spot wildlife. It’s the ideal place to spot the Big Five in just one morning! 

  • Victoria Waterfalls, Zambia 
  • This waterfall also goes by the name ‘The Smoke That Thunders’. It’s a beautiful waterfall characterized by the plunging, roaring water that results in a veil of spray. It’s a magical natural wonder that you can admire from the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. 

  • Cape Town, South Africa
  • Cape Town is also known as the jewel in the crown of South Africa. From the iconic silhouette of the Table Mountain to the golden beaches of the surrounding suburbs; Cape Town is a city you don’t want to miss out on. It’s also one of the most culturally diverse cities in Africa. 

  • Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Uganda
  • This park is considered one of the best places in the world to admire the endangered mountain gorilla. Besides the gorillas, Mgahinga has a mystical landscape of extinct volcanoes and cloud-covered rainforests. It’s a place you will never forget. 

  • Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
  • Africa is known as one of the best destinations for adventure travelers. And let’s face it: there really isn’t a bigger challenge than climbing the world’s tallest freestanding mountain, right? It takes about five to nine days to reach the top of the 5,895 meters high mountain. 

  • The Omo River, Ethiopia
  • Looking for true African wilderness? Then rafting through the Omo River might be something for you. This river is barely accessible by car and largely isolated form the outside world, making it home to many traditional tribes. 

  • Zanzibar, Tanzania
  • Zanzibar is located off the coast of Tanzania, surrounded by the Indian Ocean. The island is known for its beautiful beaches and fascinating history. During slavery, the island was under Arab rulers, whose influences can still be found in the architecture of Stone Town. Here you’ll find traditional houses, narrow alleys and even a sultan’s palace. 

    Recipe
    Can’t wait to experience the magic of Africa? No worries, because with the Kenyan Dawa cocktail you’re already bringing a piece of Africa into your home. We did some research, and here it is: the recipe like they make the Dawa in the Carnivore Restaurant in Nairobi. 

    What do you need? 

    • 2 teaspoons of white sugar or 1 teaspoon of brown sugar
    • 2 shots of vodka
    • crushed ice cubes
    • 1 lime
    • 180 ml lime juice
    • 1 ‘Dawa stick’ covered with honey

    Instructions
    Cut the lime into four pieces and put them in a whiskey glass. Add the sugar. Now crush the lime pieces and add the crushed ice. Pour the vodka into the glass and add the lime juice. Now is the time to add the Dawa stick. Twist the bottom of the stick through the honey and place it in the drink. You can crush the lime pieces a little more with the Dawa stick. The more you crush the lime pieces and stir it with the stick, the sweeter your Dawa cocktail will taste. Enjoy! 


    Did you make this classic African cocktail yourself at home? We are curious! Share them with us, using #SUITSUIT.

    Marina van Hooft

    Hi! My name is Marina and I’m 20 years old. Besides my Creative Business studies, I’m a freelance writer. My greatest passion is writing, and besides that I love good music, traveling and photography. I prefer to do that last thing at a beautiful destination across the border, obviously ;). From me you’ll mainly read blogs about beautiful travel destinations, travel tips and lifestyle. 

    @marinavanhooft 

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    Marina van Hooft

    Hi! My name is Marina and I’m 20 years old. Besides my Creative Business studies, I’m a freelance writer. My greatest passion is writing, and besides that I love good music, traveling and photography. I prefer to do that last thing at a beautiful destination across the border, obviously ;). From me you’ll mainly read blogs about beautiful travel destinations, travel tips and lifestyle. 

    @marinavanhooft