Amarula, a cream liqueur from South Africa, is made with sugar, cream and the fruit of the African Marula tree. Although the liqueur is high in alcohol, its sweet taste is acclaimed, as evidenced by a gold medal earned at the 2006 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Although launched in 1983, Amarula has been slow to expand in the United States, but its elephant-adorned bottle is getting more recognizable.
The fruit that is the basis of the liqueur ripens annually, and the scent attracts African elephants. To foster that symbiotic relationship, the company also supports a trust that protects the African elephant.
To learn more about Amarula, I spoke with JC Iglesias, VP of marketing for parent company TD Artisan Spirits.
The Daily Meal: For someone who has not tried Amarula before, how would you describe it?
JC Iglesias: Amarula is a more fruit-forward cream liqueur. The spirit base is a distillation of the fruit of the Marula tree, which is then aged in oak for two years before being blended with cream. It’s smooth and velvety, yet you can really get hints of the exotic Marula fruit in the flavor profile.
Amarula hosted a big New York event on World Elephant Day. Was there a connection to that occasion?
This was a critical moment in time for Amarula, specifically in the United States. On World Elephant Day, we commissioned a world-renowned ice sculptor to carve a life-size African elephant in the middle of New York City’s Union Square to officially launch our new campaign, Don’t Let Them Disappear, which is aimed to raise awareness around the poaching crisis. The sculpture was constructed overnight and then melted over the course of a warm August day, slowly disappearing before people’s eyes. This was meant to represent the dramatic fact that every fifteen minutes, one elephant disappears at the hands of poachers.
What’s the connection between Amarula and elephants? Why now?
Amarula has a long history in protecting the African elephant, which actually plays a crucial- and symbolic- role in the creation of the liqueur. Once a year, the elephants travel to feast on the ripe fruit of the Marula trees. This signifies to local communities the fruit is ready to be harvested. As the poaching crisis continues to threaten this keystone species, we wanted to take a stand that would really have an impact and help protect African elephants.
What are some of the drinks that Amarula mixes well with?
If you’re looking to spike your coffee, adding a dash of Amarula completely elevates it. The consistency and flavor perfectly mixes with a nice dark roast -- and on a cool autumn morning, it really hits the spot. For an indulgent treat, try mixing two parts Amarula with one part orange liqueur, Grand Marnier or Cointreau, for a drink that tastes a lot like a creamsicle. But to be honest, I just prefer Amarula in a glass with an ice cube or two.
Do you have a favorite restaurant in New York?
I’ve actually really been wanting to try the South African wine bar, Kaia, and plan to visit next time I’m in town. But one of my go-to spots in New York City is Suffolk Arms on the Lower East Side. It’s kind of a cross between a British pub and a high-end cocktail bar. I lived in London for a few years and the food is very much pub-inspired -- and they show Premier League matches on the weekend. I also think they have a fantastic bar staff and they really turn out some great drinks.