Hello, Cocktail Fans! As I promised last time, we’ll dig into my liquid creations during my trip to Kenya in March. Last time in Africa my cocktail experiments were pretty spontaneus, but this time I was determined beforehand for creating “simple but sufficient “drink list for the hotel where I stayed.
Aloe Park is not for those who absolutely require five star accommodation, but if you’re looking for a nice and peaceful place with an eye for “an local African feel”, still serving the needs of tourist, Aloe Park is your place!
I guess many of us Westerners have never heard about the town of Naivasha, roughly 100km North-West of Nairobi… that’s the beauty of it! It’s not “A Tourist Hell” as Nairobi and Mombasa are: instead it has all the best a small Kenyan town has to offer: friendly people and the privacy and peace tourist can only dream in more well-known destinations. And it’s a great base for exploring numerous Nature Parks, close and far.
Getting there is pretty easy: just contact Aloe Park beforehand and they’ll arrange a trusted driver to meet you at Nairobi Airport, he’ll take you to the front door of Aloe Park at very decent price. You’ll avoid all the hassle with hideously over-priced airport taxis.
But now it’s time to check out the cocktails!
Definitely not my creation… Kenyan National Cocktail you can find anywhere; Dawa is Swahili word for “medicine” 😀
Vodka, lime and honey… and variations of that basic recipe are plenty (as pictured drink, it had some mint in it). And please note that “vodka” can also mean Kenya Cane.
As Dawa is Kenyan National Cocktail, Kenya Cane is Kenyan National Spirit. It’s not vodka, it’s not rum… it’s exactly what it says in the label, “sugar cane spirit”; as Brazil has cachaca, Kenya has K-Cane.
Pictured “Citrus Fusion” is the best version, in my humble opinion… like Absolut Citron meeting cachaca. K-Cane is also available in plain and coconut versions, but Citrus Fusion combines The Kick of distilled sugar cane with The Crispness of lime very well.
The brown mug is fresh sugar cane juice, just squeezed… as you might have guessed, the sugar rush is immense after drinking this. Your dentist recommends this ;P
Okay, let’s check out what kind of cocktails I created for Aloe Park… so you can order them when you visit Naivasha!
Working Title “DUSTY DAY / DUSTY WINDS / WAITING FOR THE RAINS”
Oops, I forgot my pipe in the picture…
I visited Naivasha at the very end of dry season… I took a risk: I might end up sitting in my room, staring at the massive downpour outside… or I could witness nature documentary miracle with my own eyes: first rains bring the nature to life, in a couple of days yellow-brown landscape turns into a lush green scenery.
Well, neither came true… it was just the bitter end of dry season: worthy experience on it’s own, don’t get me wrong. Anyway, hiking after animals in dusty terrain brought me an idea…
1 part Kenya Cane Citrus Fusion
1 part Triple Sec
1 part Naivashan lime juice (see below)
2 to 3 parts Krest Bitter Lemon
Build into a suitable glass. Add some ice and a lime wedge. Enjoy after dusty, still breathtaking day among the wildlife of Great Rift Valley.
Naivashan limes… there seems to be two kinds of limes available at Naivashan marketplaces (great places to visit, true “small African town ambience”): small ones, that don’t give much juice at all… but that juice is immensely sour! The bigger ones have surprisingly yellow pulp and juice (as you can see in the photo), they taste like a combination of an orange and lime.
For creating “Dusty Day” at your home, I recommend mixing orange and lime juice and use it as “Naivashan lime juice”.
You noticed: this drink is essentially good ol’ Kamikaze with Krest Bitter Lemon added… but vodka exchanged to Kenya Cane and Naivashan lime “orange-lime”-dimension lets the drink stand on it’s own two feet, instead of just being the same drink, renamed.
Visiting Lake Nakuru National Park from Naivasha is much more easier than doing the same trip from Nairobi. When you leave Naivasha 5 am, you’ll hit Nakuru just when the sun is rising and the animals are most active; try to do the same from Nairobi, you’ll have to leave 3 am… or arrive hopelessly late, just to see animals hiding from the sun in distant shadows. (This picture also reminds me that I haven’t designed a cocktail for Rhino…)
The following drink is an old classic, done in “Naivashan Style”…
Working Title “HIPPO’S NECK”
2 parts Stoney (see below)
1 part Viceroy 5 yrs brandy
(dash of Angostura Bitters, if desired)
Build into a suitable short glass. Give it a gentle stir, add some ice.
Kenyan Stoney is not a ginger ale (as used in Horse’s Neck), it’s more like a “ginger lemonade”: the ginger taste is immense, but not fiery. Viceroy is Kenyan brandy, definitely worth tasting.
So, Hippo’s Neck is Horse’s Neck made out of local ingredients. I adjusted the ratios to benefit them optimally… and since the result is a bit more intense experience than classic Horse’s Neck I would serve this in a bit more shorter glass… and since hippo has shorter neck than horse, the drink is therefore called Hippo’s Neck 😀
There are plenty of hippos at Lake Naivasha, of course; these specimens seem to be very content with their existence. I highly recommend taking a boat trip at the lake: gentle winds cool you down and it’s a birdwatcher’s paradise!
And another cocktail utilizing Viceroy 5…
Hasty photo taken from the moving car in the street of Naivasha… motorcycle taxi, “boda-boda”, with donkey cart on the background.
Working Title “BODA-BODA”
5 parts Viceroy 5 yrs
2 to 3 parts Triple Sec
2 parts lime juice
Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. For lime juice I used smaller, more sour Naivashan limes (see “Dusty Day”, above). To balance that, I recommend 3 parts Triple Sec instead of 2 you would use for Sidecar…
…since this is Sidecar, using Viceroy in the place of cognac. But because I didn’t see no sidecars in Naivasha (many cargo trikes, though) I thought this should be called Boda-Boda, after local motorcycle taxis. Great and cheap way for getting around Naivasha, if you’re ready to accept the fact that there are no helmets… but drivers are true professionals, they accelerate/decelerate very smoothly and drive at sensible speeds, no need to hang onto your dear life white-knuckled.
Hell’s Gate National Park is a short drive from the town of Naivasha. If you’re not interested in driving in the park, you can rent a bike at the gate and explore the scenery and wildlife at your own pace…as did the the production crew of The Lion King, this place was one of the main inspiratios for that film. Please note the tiny zebras at he bottom of the picture, they’ll set that enormous cliff to the right scale!
Working Title “NAIVASHAN SUNSET”
1 part red Zappa (see below)
1 part thick mango juice
Yellow (orange-ish) part (roughly two times in volume compared to red part):
1 part Kenya Cane Citrus Fusion
1 part Naivashan orange juice (see below)
Put some ice into a highball glass. Shake/stir red part with ice, pour into a glass. Shake/stir yellow (orange-ish) part with ice and gently layer on top of the red part.
As the midday sun of the Equatorial Africa is ruthless, so is the yellow part of this drink… but when the sun sets the things cool down; the anise of the red part represents that feeling when scorching sun surrenders for the day, when the Comic Book-Oriented Tourist From Far North can sigh in relief and reminisce all the wonderful wildlife experiences that occured during that day.
Naivashan orange juice… it’s orange juice, all right, but different than what we Westerners get from the supermarkets. First of all, it’s strongly orange in colour instead of yellow (as you can see)… it also blends very well with Kenya Cane: the result is not just Screwdriver but something more… it’s hard to explain… more “full-bodied”.
Anyway, made from local ingredients here in Finland the result is pretty sad. But I found a solution (of sorts), keep on reading.
Bunch of alcohols used for cocktails in this post, Zappa far left. Zappa is a South African sambuca, available in many colours: I bought red version.
NAIVASHAN SUNSET, pretty sorry non-Kenyan version
1 part thick mango juice
1 part “Zappa replacement”: 1/2 strawberry syrup/red grenadine, 1/2 strong anise aroma alcohol
1 part Kenya Cane Citrus Fusion (or in an emergency, Absolut Citron)
1 part pineapple juice
“quite a lot” of lime juice
Prepare as actual Naivashan Sunset. Since I can’t replicate Naivashan orange juice with anything found in Finnish stores (even if I squeeze the juice myself), let’s go for the “dull scorch” of pineapple, lime and booze.
Let’s face it… this is pretty sad version of the original… all the more reason for visiting Naivasha where The Orange Juice Is Right! 😀
One of the best things about Naivasha is that you don’t have to rush into the national parks to get a glimpse of wildlife. You can just stroll to the shore of the lake, order a cup of nice Kenyan coffee and observe all sorts of animals around you: as I said earlier, Kenya is truly a Birdwatcher’s Paradise. And speaking of coffee…
Aloe Park’s faithful guardian Timmy is observing what’s happening on the porch table…
ESPRESSO…erm, COFFEE MARTINI, Aloe Park Style
1 part Kenya Cane Citrus Fusion
1 part Kahlúa
2 parts Kenyan coffee
Shake with ice and strain into the cocktail glass.
Aloe Park’s owner is Finnish, so she enjoys coffee as any other Finlander (including Yours Truly). We didn’t have any espresso, so we used normal coffee instead: Espresso Martini uses one part espresso, but to get the coffee flavour right you’ll have to use two parts ordinary coffee or K-Cane and Kahlúa will dominate the drink too much.
This blog is about superhero cocktails: in this post we’ve discussed cocktails, but I didn’t forget about superheroes while visiting Kenya. Read on…
I bought some toys from Finland and took them to Kenya, gave to the children’s home near Naivasha. Of course I didn’t forget the superhero aspect, I bought Spider-Man and Batman costumes…
…and let’s not forget superheroines: Wonder Woman and Supergirl! 😀
Toys and costumes ended up in local children’s home as planned. Some of the stuff I gave to the Naivashan preschool (footballs, skip ropes, kite)… but Spider-Man costume found its way to the Real Life Superhero…
I had the privilege of visiting this young boy’s home. His clubfoot has been operated three times, and now it seems that in a year or so he can discard his crutches and walk without them, for the first time in his life. As a proof of him being a Real Life Superhero I gave him the Spider-Man costume: you should’ve seen the smile! And whatta coincidence… check out what sort of shirt he happened to wear at the moment: left upper arm 😀
This post started with a Kenyan cocktail recipe, not creation of mine… so it’s just appropriate to draw it to an end along the same guidelines…
Taking a break from all the wildlife experiences, letting someone else do the drinks for a chance… in Nairobi, in seafood restaurant Ocean Basket (obviously)
Bourbon, Martini Rosso, Angostura Bitters, dash of some kind of orange essence or that orange wedge really had some intense aroma (wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case)… I don’t know what were the ratios (working on it ;P), but I guess you can imagine how refreshing the drink was in the hot afternoon.
Strawberry Gin & Tonic on the background.
So, those were the cocktails on my trip to Kenya. If you’ve ever had a desire to see African savannah, I can’t recommend Kenya (and especially Naivasha) enough: if there is cheaper and/or more convenient way to explore Great Rift Valley, it’s beautiful scenery and magnificient wildlife, I sure would like to hear about it!
Next time: just superheroes, no travel pics ;P