When I posted the Bonus World Elephant Day Cocktail Post, I almost regretted it because I thought, I’ll never have another elephant conservation-related cocktail idea.
Wrong! Fake news.
If you haven’t heard of Amarula (I hadn’t until recently), it’s a liqueur made of sugar, cream, and brandy distilled from the fruit of the Marula tree. The liqueur is made in South Africa.
From The Whisky Exchange:
Distilled from the fermented fruit of the Marula tree, a native of the African plains. The spirit is aged for three years, then blended with cream. If you like Bailey’s you should give this a try.
You can read another good description on The Manual.
The most important thing to note about Amarula: it is D E L I C I O U S. It tastes like toffee and caramel with a hint of something weird and wonderful, but it’s not so thick that it feels like drinking glue (Glue is Gross, or, Why I Have Issues With Eggnog). Amarula has really struck the perfect balance of cream/toffee/sweetness/fruit.
The main reason I am down with Amarula is because the company supports elephant research and local women’s groups in South Africa. They started the Amarula Trust to focus on elephants. The researchers collar and track elephants that are caught up in Human Elephant Conflict (HEC), then they track the elephants’ movements and patterns to help reduce negative run-ins with humans.
They also started a campaign recently called Name Them Save Them, where you can choose, design, name, and share a virtual african elephant. I did and named her Louise. #saveLouise
The Amarula bottle is sold with a gold tassel around the neck, which is hand-crafted by women at Sir Lowry’s Pass, a poor village nearby in South Africa. These women live in extreme poverty, and some have never worked before. Through this expanding project, the women have access to exercise classes, parenting training, and english classes.
How It’s Made
My understanding* is that locals in the Limpopo province of South Africa harvest and sell the fruit to the distiller. The fruit is checked for ripeness and then put through a “washing, stoning, and pulping process.” And…
From The Scotsman:
“The contribution to the local economy does not end here. The stones are given back to the community because the kernel is an edible nut of the cashew family and the shell can also be used in the production of face cream. Both are useful sources of additional revenue for a far-from-prosperous area.”
At some point it’s blended with cream and sugar.
I love that Amarula is a liqueur with social awareness.
How To Drink It
Like a lot of other websites have said, Amarula is best enjoyed over ice or neat.
Some other interesting recipes I stumbled across:
These are great (2 out of 3), but I was determined to come up with my own cocktail. So I purchased a bottle and a few other ingredients, and got to work.
Since Amarula and Kahlua seem to be considered distant cousins, and I do enjoy a good White or Black Russian, I thought a play on those sounded nice.
After hours of practice I ended up with the Russian Rose™. Its deceivingly simple ingredients caused me trouble, but if you break up the steps you end up with a smooth, sort of frothy pastel pink drink. The cocktail is creamy, sweet, and packs a punch. (Note: Amarula uses real, although local, cream. If you usually avoid dairy, proceed with caution).
What’s cute is that I tried to mix vodka, Amarula, and a little grenadine together just to taste, and was surprised when the grenadine turned into little specks. When I dumped a little lemon juice into the mixture (not sure why), and the entire concoction turned into a Cement Mixer shot, I realized I had a curdling situation on my hands. No worries, I worked it out for you.
- Shake 1 ½ oz vodka with ¼ oz grenadine. Strain into one of your shaker tins.
- Add lots of ice to shaker tin with pink vodka, and start stirrin’. (May need to youtube how to properly to stir cocktail).
- While stirring, slowly pour 1 oz of Amarula into vodka/ice. This should prevent curdling. (After tasting, decide if you want to change your ratios to your taste).
- Pop the other shaker tin on and shake that mixture. Strain into chilled martini glass.
The grenadine should add color, not too much taste. The Amarula is sweet enough without it. Honestly, I just wanted vodka and Amarula.. But.. pink.
We got lucky with this liqueur, folks. If it was, say, Sambuca, mushrooms, or eggnog wanting to help elephants, I would really be in an ethical dilemma. Taste-testing would not be quite as fun.
If all else fails, just throw some Amarula in your coffee. Taste-tested and approved by me.
I hope you enjoy reading, dreaming, and wistfully thinking about this cocktail, and I hope you name and save an elephant!