If you enjoy exploring different flavors, you’ll love South Africa. The food is great, and so are the South African drinks!
This is a collection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks that are indigenous to South Africa.
South African Drinks - Alcoholic
South African Wines need no introduction. They are freely available everywhere, and they are good! Many of them are internationally acclaimed and renowned.
There are all kinds of variations of wine available, so you can freely pick and choose.
For the absolute best wine experience, go to the wineries in Cape Town. It does depend on which wineries you go to, but for the most part, the staff are extremely knowledgeable about their wines. They can tell you about how the flavors of the wine is influenced by the wind, and other things that grow in the region. It’s fascinating!
Amarula Cream Liqueur
Amarula is made from the fruit of the marula tree. It’s a firm favorite among elephants and monkeys, who become a little drunk after eating too much of the over-ripe marula fruits.
Amarula is a sweet and creamy liqueur. It’s similar to Baileys, Carolans, and other similar liqueurs. It can be enjoyed on the rocks, added to coffee, ice cream, or shots.
While it may not be widely available around the world, you can find them in some American liquor stores.
Van Der Hum Liqueur
This is a citrus-flavored, blood-orange-colored, syrupy kind of liqueur. It’s originally from Cape Town. It is made with herbs, spices, sugar, tangerines, diluted wine, and pot still brandy.
Van Der Hum is very aromatic. Enjoy it as a substitute for whiskey in a Manhattan.
A springbokkie is a sweet shot. It is named after the South African rugby team – the Springboks. The drink represents the colors of their rugby jersey—green and gold.
The gold part of the shot is Amarula, which is another favorite in South Africa. (Truth be told, it is more brown than gold, but who cares.) The green in the drink is either peppermint liqueur and/or green crème de menthe.
This is a very popular drink—you can ask for it in almost any bar around the country.
South African Beers
If you enjoy a good beer, you’ll enjoy what South Africa has to offer. There are several commercial beers to choose from. If you are a little bit more adventurous, visit Durban and Cape Town for a big variety of craft beers. You can often visit local breweries for tastings.
Some local favorites are Afro Caribbean, Devil’s Peak, Clarens Brewery, Mitchell’s, Jack Black, Agar’s, Copperlake, Sabie Brewing Co, and Gilroy’s Brewery.
Umqombothi is a traditional African beer made from smashed-up maize (corn), maize malt, sorghum malt, yeast, and water. It is sour, thick, and creamy, with a gritty consistency.
It is high in vitamin B. Umqombothi has a lower alcohol content compared to commercial beers.
It is usually drunk in a communal setting where it is shared between friends and family, at weddings, funerals, and traditional meetings.
It is also traditionally consumed to celebrate the homecoming of young men in the Xhosa culture, after their religious male circumcision and initiation.
Witblits is the Afrikaans word for “white lightning.” This drink is also known as “firewater” because it is very strong.
Witblits is South Africa’s version of moonshine. It is a grape-fermented amateur brandy that is mostly produced and consumed in the Western Cape.
Mampoer is truly indigenous to South Africa. Some claim that Mampoer is the fruitier alternative to Witblits.
Mampoer is considered by many as peach brandy, but it’s also available in other fruity flavors like apricot, figs, pomegranates, pineapples, lemons, litchi, etc.
Non-Alcoholic South African Drinks
But it’s not just alcoholic drinks that you have to look forward to. There are also a few indigenous non-alcoholic South African drinks you may enjoy.
Rooibos tea as become so common around the world, many people don’t even know that it’s from South Africa.
It is a firm favorite tea that can be enjoyed black, with lemon, or with milk. It tastes great warm, or serve it as ice tea with a little lemon juice and an optional sweetener of your choice. In some grocery stores, you can even buy juices that are mixed with Rooibos tea.
Rooibos tea is very popular in South Africa. And with good reason! Rooibos tea is not only delicious, it’s very healthy too.
Amasi is a thick, slightly sour, fermented milk beverage (similar to kefir). It’s an excellent source of probiotics. Drinking Amasi regularly can lead to improved immune response and better absorption of vitamins and minerals.
You can buy Amasi almost anywhere in the country in grocery stores.
Mageu / amaHewu
This is another fermented, non-alcoholic drink. This one is made from fermented mealie pap (which is a traditional South African corn porridge).
Mageu is a thin carbohydrate-rich porridge drink. It’s often used as a meal replacement.
Mageu is made by adding sorghum and flour to maize (corn) porridge. Water is added and left in the sun to ferment for a day or two.
Mageu is high in vitamin B and probiotics. It is available in a few fruity flavors, and is said to improve digestion.