Kenyan 'Dawa'

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‘What would you like for sundowner?’ This an important and oft-asked question on safari. The first time it was put to us, we had yet to arrive at camp, and were still bumping along in the Land Rover on the way from the airstrip. Our driver had been casually filling us in on the scary and important stuff – ‘the camp has no fences,’ ‘if you need to leave your tent at night, make sure you are accompanied at all times by a guide,’ then suddenly she stopped the car, turned right round, and said in a low and very serious voice, ‘Now – I need to ask you... what do you want for sundowner?’ 

At first, it is fair to say that I did not quite appreciate the significance of the sundowner. But, on that afternoon’s game drive, when the sun was setting and were about to leave the safety of the vehicle for the first time to have a drink on the rapidly darkening plains, I quickly understood the advantages inherent in strong dose of Dutch courage. Surprised, and at a bit of a loss as to what to say the first time I was asked, I chose a straightforward G&T, but by the end of the trip, our choice dosage had been well established, and when asked, it was always ‘A Dawa please.’


Swahili for ‘good medicine,’ Dawa is like a Caprioska, but with honey – and you’ll be surprised at the difference this makes. On our way out of Nairobi, I bought some special Dawa mixing sticks as a souvenir, but these are also an important element of the drink-making process I think. There is something key to the character of the drink in extracting the honey from a deep tub by twirling it on the stick and then swiveling it about as you drink. Many improvisations are possible though, so set about finding some suitable tools, and get mixing. 




(Makes one tumbler)

  • 1 lime - cut into quarters
  • 1 tablespoon raw sugar
  • one 'dip' of honey - (as measured out very inaccurately with the mixing stick)
  • 2 shots of vodka
  • Ice cubes to serve


Using the mixing stick, muddle the lime quarters and sugar together in the bottom of the glass, extracting as much juice as possible from the lime in the process. Add the ice to the glass, then pour over a generous helping of vodka. Dip the mixing stick into a tub of honey and mix what you manage twirl onto the stick through the vodka and lime. Enjoy outside the safety of your vehicle.

(Medicinal benefits not guaranteed)