Mamajuana: Nature’s Aphrodisiac?
Mamajuana is a potent drink native to the Dominican Republic that is purported to have strong medicinal qualities. It’s also a staple at many Dominican Republic villas; it is in our’s. Made of tree bark, various herbs and alcohol, the concoction has been credited with curing ovarian and prostate disorders, influenza, digestive and circulation ailments and sexual impotency. In fact, it is so valued as an aphrodisiac by Dominicans and those who take holidays in the Dominican Republic that many call it “liquid Viagra.” Here’s a quick guide on how to make mamajuana.
The ingredients of mamajuana often vary. Here’s a list of mamajuana ingredients. A branded version of the drink was first introduced by a man called Jesus Rodriguez in the 1950s, but it is now made by various mixologists, both commercially and privately. While individual ingredients may differ from region to region, all versions contain sticks, roots, leaves and alcohol. The murky liquid doesn’t always appear appetizing, but connoisseurs insist it is delicious.
Plant matter commonly found in the mixture includes canelilla, guyacan, albahaca, bohuca pega palo, anis estrellado, maguey, marabeli, timacle and clavo dulce. The leaves, roots and sticks are placed in a bottle, which is then filled with rum. Some makers will also add strawberries, raisins, cinnamon, molasses and fruit juice to enhance the flavor. The longer the rum is allowed to absorb the essence of the ingredients, the better it tastes.
In order to make mamajuana the first time, the wood needs to be cured. This means that twigs and sticks must be soaked in alcohol to remove bitterness before adding the rum. Many people use gin for this purpose, curing the wood for a minimum of six weeks before pouring it out and adding dark rum and fruits. Others prefer to cure the wood with honey and red wine. Once curing is finished, the alcohol in the rum will kill any lingering bacteria, making it safe to drink. The first batch may be slightly bitter, but the taste will mellow each time the wood is reused.
Typically, mamajuana is stored and served at room temperature. Some people like to down it in a single shot, but others enjoy sipping it, pouring it over ice or mixing it with soda. The drink has become extremely popular over the years, and most bars and restaurants in the Dominican serve one or more versions. The concoction can also be purchased on the Internet and makes a great gift and conversation starter. Most people are eager to try a delicious drink with legendary medicinal properties.
Those who regularly visit Dominican Republic villas often develop a sophisticated taste for mamajuana. Some people visit just to sample different varieties and bring back new brands after each trip. Most countries allow people to bring home a bottle of mamajuana when they return from a visit to the Dominican, but travelers should be prepared to answer questions by customs officials who may be suspicious of a bottle containing brown liquid and twigs. Care should be taken when packing the bottle in luggage to ensure it does not break. Wrapping the precious cargo in newspaper and then rolling it in a fluffy towel should provide enough cushioning to protect it on its journey home.