Categories: Africa, Sustainability

Drink this South African Liqueur, Save Elephants

South African liqueur Amarula with a rocks glass

Disclosure: Amarula sent us an at-home safari “care package” in return for helping to raise awareness of the company’s latest elephant-saving initiative. We think this is a great cause.

Like Baileys? Kerrygold Irish cream? Here’s one for you to try: Amarula. The traditional South African cream liqueur, made from the fruit of the wild marula tree—which grows only in subequatorial Africa—is velvety and rich, a little butterscotchy and sweet from the hand-picked, fermented fruit. As the temperature (finally) starts to drop here in New York, Amarula on the rocks is becoming our new favorite after-dinner drink—a deliciously creamy finish to the evening. But there’s a nobler reason to try it: The company wants to help protect the African elephant from extinction.

For the rest of 2017, Amarula is donating $1 of every bottle sold in the United States to the renowned nonprofit WildLifeDIRECT, to support on-the-ground conservation efforts. It’s the latest in a string of initiatives for their global “Don’t Let Them Disappear” campaign.

A wild African elephant
Courtesy Amarula

It’s no secret that African elephants are in trouble. According to the 96 Elephants campaign by the Wildlife Conservation Society, 96 elephants are killed in Africa daily. That’s one every 15 MINUTES. The past decade has shown such a surge in ivory poaching that it’s possible these majestic animals will disappear from the wild within decades. Wrap your mind around that.

Saving African elephants isn’t only important because, well, they’re elephants, and big and amazing and adorable. A keystone species, they are hugely essential to maintaining the biodiversity of the ecosystems in which they live—clearing paths through vegetation; dispersing seeds as they move; digging holes for water, which helps other species hydrate as well—and they play a major role in attracting tourists to Africa every year, helping to support an industry that funnels money into local economies and populations.

It’s easy to help the elephant cause: donate! Or, in this case, drink. Seems like a no-brainer to us! And also: DO NOT BUY IVORY PRODUCTS. It’s as simple as that.

But back to the drink. Marula fruit—incidentally, also a favorite food for the elephants, who, contrary to popular lore, do not get a buzz from them—was new to us, as we’ve yet to visit this part of Africa. Unfortunately they don’t ship well; we were sent only a rubber version of the sweet yellow fruit. A relative of the mango, marula is commonly used in jams, wine, beer, and, of course, Amarula.

Marula fruit in Africa
Courtesy Amarula

While we firmly support saving the elephants and genuinely enjoy this drink, we couldn’t help but wonder what South Africans think of the stuff. Is Amarula a legit regional booze firmly ensconced in local culture or more of a tourist souvenir?

I turned to a South African friend, Gemma. While she agrees it makes a great “South African keepsake” for travelers, she says it’s also a staple in locals’ home bars…just not for everyday use: “[Amarula] is kind of a novelty drink. It’s nice to have in case you feel like offering it at a party, or at the end of an evening.” She also suggests adding it to ice cream for “an amazing adult milkshake we call Don Pedro’s.”

There you have it. Now excuse us while we go buy some ice cream.

Look for Amarula at your local liquor store, where a 750ml bottle typically retails for US$20-$25. And don’t let the elephants disappear!


Amarula at-home safari package
Thanks for this, Amarula!


Published On: November 9, 2017

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