The reputation of South Africa as a wine country is already firmly established, but it’s not just wine that occupy the evenings here. The editors of Beloc will introduce you to the most popular alcoholic drinks in the country.
Gin production in South Africa is also on the rise. About ten years ago, Cape Town gin made waves all over the world and began to set new trends. The fact is that in the production of this drink, in addition to the traditional juniper, they began to use different types of fynbos (an endemic plant that can only be found on the edge of the African continent). Local producers enthusiastically add endemic rooibos or honeybush to gin, creating unique combinations of flavours and aromas. We highly recommend The Gin Bar for cocktails on the first Thursday of the month or visiting Woodstock Gin Company for a tasting.
Predictably, beer takes the lead. It was named the favourite drink by around 40% of South Africans. There’s nothing better than a glass of ice-cold liquid gold on a hot summer day, and you can’t watch sports, be it rugby or football, without it. In South Africa, they drink both the traditional umqombothi beer made from corn flour and malt, sorghum and yeast, as well as the usual lager, most often of Castle, Tafel, or Black Label brands. In recent years, many craft breweries have appeared in Cape Town and the surrounding area, for example, the Jack Black, Afro Caribbean, and Devil’s Peak brands have gained enormous popularity.
The local Savanna cider is worth mentioning as it is one of the three largest cider brands in the world. This refreshing drink is made from Elgin Valley apples and distributed to restaurants and stores across the country. Its main competitor, Hunters, is not far behind Savanna, and there are more and more craft ciders every year. Grabouw and Elgin are especially proud of their production.
Brandy is slightly behind beer in popularity. The city of Worcester is most famous for its drinks. Closer to Cape Town there are, for example, Van Ryn’s Distillery in Stellenbosch and Oude Molen in Grabouw. You rarely meet someone who drinks neat brandy. It usually gets mixed with cola and ice, this simple cocktail was not invented in South Africa, but here it has gained a cult following, especially among workers and farmers, and it’s called brannas. The most popular brands are Richelieu and Klipdrift, mainly due to their affordable prices. They even sell brandy already mixed with cola in bottles.
If you go bar hopping with local friends, give in to their persuasion and try a springbokkie shot. It is named after the small but very jumping springbok antelope. This shot is made from equal parts creamy Amarula liqour and bright green peppermint liqueur, poured in two layers, thus emulating the colours of the South African rugby team, gold and green. The drink is especially popular in bars across the country during the sporting season, because springbok antelope is the symbol the South African rugby team. By the way, it knocks down as well as a rugby forward.
Amarula liqueur is also popular on its own. This sweet beverage is drank neat with ice which is called “amarula on rocks” or added to coffee and desserts. For example, in many restaurants, you can order the dom pedro dessert. Everywhere it is made differently, but the base is usually Amarula and vanilla ice cream. This liqueur is made from the fruits of the African marula tree. They contain a lot of sugar, so they quickly begin to ferment. This attracts wild animals, especially monkeys and elephants. The latter is even depicted on the bottle label. Animals come to the trees and eat overripe fruits to get drunk. A man, watching this, could not stay away, and this is how the wonderful South African liqueur appeared.
Witblits and mampoer
For lovers of thrills and the strongest alcohol in South Africa, there are two types of moonshine – witblits and mampoer. Witblits (translated from Afrikaans as “white lightning”) is a kind of homemade brandy from grape residues with an alcohol content of 43 to 70%. Since the Western Cape is a wine region, this is where witblits is particularly popular. Mampoer is made from fruits (for example, apricots, peaches, lychees and maroelas) and is mainly prepared in the north of South Africa. It is not inferior to witblits in strength, but the taste is usually softer. Anyway, to try mampoer or witblits you need a certain amount of courage and body strength.
The temptation to taste all the variety of South African alcohol is great, and we won’t discourage you. The main thing is to have a snack or proper meal so that the next day you don’t have to run for the traditional South African hangover cure, which is cream soda!