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An Australian Faux-Mamajuana

The Dominican Republic have a drink called Mamajuana – dark rum, red wine, honey and spices in a bottle. The quantities of liquid and the exact spices vary from island to island so it doesn’t seem that a hard and fast Mamajuana recipe is as important as the idea. So I thought it could be fun to have a good old Australian stab at it. We headed off to the local spice shop for supplies.

Mamajuana curing in a three monkeys bottle

Step One – The Choice of Spices

The first step involves the selection of spices to cram into my Three Monkey’s bottle:

  • 1 stick of cassia bark broken into shorter lengths
  • 3 short sticks of cinnamon
  • 1 short oldish vanilla bean
  • 6 or 7 kaffir lime leaves
  • 3 chopped loomi (sun dried limes)
  • 6 pieces of kokum (dried citrus)
  • 3 pieces of galangal bark
  • 3 pieces of licorice root
  • 3 pieces of mace blade
  • 2 bay leaves

Other spices that I might have used but opted against were star anise and cloves. I guess not knowing the combination of flavours that will end up with any particular flavour brings me back to some advice a friend gave me about making good mead: “Follow your tongue.” In other words, if you don’t want to eat it then don’t put it into your food or booze.

And you should note that I was conservative on the quantity of spices this time around. If it works out then I’ll make a second crammed bottle, but until then I’ve erred on the side of caution.

Step Two – Pour in the Three Main Ingredients

With the spices pushed inside the Three Monkey’s bottle it was time to add dark rum, wine and honey. For this I chose Bundaberg Select Vat Rum, The Mechanic Shiraz 2015 from Naked Wines and clover honey from Flagstaff Apiaries in Hobart.

As with making mead, I’d advise you to use a less floral honey if possible. Choose a good honey from an apiarist, rather than the supermarket. And use what you like to eat, rather than what’s cheapest. If it’s good enough to pour into good rum then remember shit in shit out. Quality inputs count.

The videos I watched varied around the quantities of these three ingredients. I used approximate amounts that matched what I would prefer in the end drink – a rum drink with wine and spice flavours. Into the spice filled bottle I decanted:

  • Bundaberg Select Vat Rum to the halfway level
  • More than a quarter of the bottle with The Mechanic Shiraz 2015
  • Topping the bottle with Flagstaff Apiaries clover honey

Or you could simply use the two finger rule: two fingers horizontal of honey and two fingers horizontal of wine; top up with rum.

Step Three – Several Weeks Storage and Refill the Bottle

This was all about creating a mix of booze, honey and spices to undergo a curing stage. The Mamajuana mix sits for several weeks to let the contents work together. At the end of the curing stage the liquid gets poured out and discarded (because it will be bitter) or consumed (because I don’t throw away good rum or wine).

The bottle is refilled with rum, wine and honey and the mamajuana is complete. Leave that for several more weeks before drinking.

The Whole Idea of Dominican Mamajuana

I’ve seen several people discuss Mamajuana online and they all vary around this simple idea. So I’m not sure there’s a single Mamajuana that holds true. To that end I sourced easily available spices and hope that I haven’t strayed too far from the spirit of this peasant drink.

For all I know this concoction will taste like absolute rubbish. Or heaven. I’m told it’s supposed to be consumed as a couple of shot glasses as a prequel to the night’s general drinking. And, once cured in this way, the spices are supposed to last for a decade of refilling.

It’s a simple idea and I’ll write an update when I have more to share. True, mine is a reserved version with fewer spices jammed into the bottle; but it’s a nice little spicy experiment to sit in our liquor cabinet.

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Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark and I live in the Derwent Valley in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a mazer & a yeast farmer (making beer, fruit wine and mead as by-products of continuous improvement in my farming practices). I'm a photographer, although my film cameras are currently silent. I do not tolerate idiots. I do not tolerate bigotry. I do not tolerate excuses. Let's be clear, if you sit with my enemies you my are my enemy for life.

Blogger. Thinker. Brewer. Drinker. Life partner to the amazing and incredible Megan.

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