Top 10 Safari Sundowners Slideshow
The restaurant at Ebony Lodge in South Africa puts its own twist on the classic gin and tonic by replacing lemon with cucumber. Back in the day, the lemon actually helped stave off scurvy. The drink’s biggest advantage, though, is the tonic water, which contains quinine, a liquid believed to discourage mosquitos, especially important since several types of the pesky insect carry malaria in Africa. The cucumber, which helps stave off dehydration, is valuable after a long game drive on a sunny day through the Singita Sabi Sand Reserve.
One of the most popular cocktails in Kenya and Tanzania is known as "dawa" or "medicine" because it’s purported to cure all sorts of ailments — whatever’s bothering you, really. There are lots of versions of dawa out there. One of the tastiest, served upon request at northern Tanzania’s Singita’s Faru Faru Lodge, contains sugar, vodka, lime, crushed ice, and a honey stick. After a day of safari, guests arrive back at the lodge to a Colonial-inspired spread of dawas, and can sit down in one of several leather chairs angled toward the sunset to take in the beautiful sights.
Channel those long-ago colonial types, who liked their drinks simple — no sweet sprinkles on top, no curly citrus peels. Order one at Pamushana Lodge, in Zimbabwe, where the bartender will pour 2 ounces of blended scotch and 5 ounces of club soda over a glass of ice. It tastes better if you’re clad in khaki.
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This cocktail combines two of the genre’s biggest players: gin, which started out as a medicinal potion thanks to its main ingredient, the juniper berry, which is a diuretic and thought to be a remedy for arthritis; and Amarula, a cream liqueur made in South Africa. The attentive team at Bilila Lodge Serengeti, the only luxury property within the national park, invented this frozen recipe, which includes Konyagi, a type of Tanzanian gin, Amarula, cream, and vanilla ice cream, garnished with a chocolate straw and sprinkles.
After morning and evening game drives which lasting about three hours each, a standard safari schedule, visitors may expect meat or fish, perhaps pumpkin soup (surprisingly common here), plated alongside ugali, the country’s cornmeal staple, but instead they may be surprised to be presented with chocolate amarula, a drink that is not only refreshing after a long day in the sun, but also, thanks to the chocolate garnish, surprisingly sweet.
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Admit it — a good-looking cocktail just tastes better. This jaunty orange peel-garnished beauty — a favorite of bartender Jurgen E. Falcke at Ebony Lodge — calls for just a few ingredients, like dark rum, Grand Marnier, and orange peel, but packs a powerful punch. Rum was said to prevent against vitamin C deficiencies, but that’s actually the fresh-squeezed orange juice at work. As for the chocolate, the antioxidant-rich dark variety goes a long way toward lifting mood and improving cognitive function — and that’s never a bad thing when you’re surrounded by all the majestic, and powerful, animals that roam the Serengeti.
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High in vitamin C, the Sasakwa Rum Swizzle, invented at Sasakwa Lodge in Tanzania, helps boost your immune system, which is important after a long international flight. The drink, a mixture of dark rum, pineapple juice, crushed ice, and a slice of orange, tastes all the better when paired with an extraordinary view. The one from Sasakwa Lodge is not uncommon for the region, but deeply moving: every evening, just before sunset, a troop of baboons scuttles to the top of a mountain to watch the show, far from the reach of predators.
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A drink with such a potent mix of limes and lemons is great for warding off vitamin C deficiencies, but tequila, made from the agave plant, may also possess anti-inflammatory properties. At South Africa’s Boulders Lodge, ask the bartender to mix it with the local spirit, Konyagi, which locals describe the flavor as "not quite vodka, not quite gin," and you’ve got the perfect safari flask-filler. Of course, everything in moderation, especially when you’re in the Serengeti.
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The original sundowners were no-nonsense affairs. Ask the folks at Sweni Lodge in South Africa to spruce up the on-the-rocks version with a little citrus and sugar for an energy boost.
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The South African cream liquor, Amarula, is made in part from the mineral- and nutrient-rich marula fruit, which elephants and humans eat when the yellow-hued globes fall or are plucked from trees of the same name. One marula fruit contains four times the amount of vitamin C as an orange, and its juices are used to make aromatherapy and essential oils throughout South Africa, where the tree and its fruit are considered sacred. One of the tastiest Amarula recipes includesAmarula, Frangelico, Bols Banana Liqueur, cream, a pinch of chocolate powder, and fresh cherries.