South African Alcohol: A Guide to the Nation’s Best Drinks

South Africa is a nation with a rich and diverse history, culture, and cuisine. One aspect of South African culture that is often overlooked is its drinks, particularly its alcoholic beverages. From traditional African brews to modern craft beers and exquisite wines, South Africa boasts some of the best drinks in the world.

If you’re curious about South African alcohol or planning a trip to South Africa, you might be wondering what to expect. In this blog post, we’ll explore the history and culture of South African alcohol, highlight some of the most popular drinks, and provide tips on where to find them.

We’ll start by discussing traditional African alcohol, which is an important part of South African culture. We’ll also explore some of the popular South African alcoholic drinks, such as Amarula, Castle Lager, and Savanna Cider.

If you’re not in South Africa, don’t worry! South African alcohol is becoming increasingly popular worldwide. We’ll also cover where to find South African alcohol in the USA and other countries.

Whether you’re a seasoned drinker or just curious, this guide to South African alcohol is bound to quench your thirst for knowledge. So, sit back, pour yourself a drink, and let’s explore the wonderful world of South African alcohol together.

Traditional African Alcohol

South Africa has a long history of traditional alcohol production, which has its roots in African culture and customs. Here are some interesting facts about traditional African alcohol that you may not know:

Ingredients Used in Traditional African Alcohol

Traditional African alcohol is brewed using a variety of ingredients such as local grains, fruits, and herbs. Some of the popular traditional African alcohols include:

  • Umqombothi: This is a traditional beer made from maize, sorghum, and malted barley. It is a sour, thick, and bitter beer that is often enjoyed at cultural ceremonies and events.
  • Rakgadi: This is a traditional South African drink made from marula fruit, sugar, and yeast. It has a sweet taste and is often enjoyed as a dessert wine.
  • Amarula Cream: This is a cream liqueur made from the marula fruit. It has a creamy texture and a sweet taste, making it a popular drink among locals and tourists alike.

The Role of Traditional African Alcohol in Society

Traditional African alcohol plays an important role in the social and cultural lives of many African communities. It is often consumed during cultural events and ceremonies and is used to welcome and honor guests. It is also used as a symbol of community and togetherness.

The Health Benefits of Traditional African Alcohol

Traditional African alcohol has been found to have some health benefits. For instance:

  • Umqombothi is rich in antioxidants, which help to fight off harmful agents in the body. It is also known to stimulate the immune system and improve digestion.
  • Amarula Cream is rich in Vitamin C, which is essential for healthy skin, bones, and teeth. It also contains antioxidants that help to protect the body against free radicals.

The Future of Traditional African Alcohol

Traditional African alcohol is an important part of African culture and is enjoyed by many. However, with the introduction of modern alcohol, traditional African alcohol is facing competition. Nonetheless, efforts are being made to preserve and promote traditional African alcohol as a cultural heritage.

In conclusion, traditional African alcohol is not just a drink but a symbol of culture, community, and togetherness. Its rich history and unique flavors make it an important part of African culture and should be preserved for future generations.

South African Alcohol in the USA

South African alcohol is not only enjoyed in South Africa but also in the United States. Here’s a look at how South African alcohol has made its way into the American market:

The Rise of Rooibos

Rooibos tea has been an established beverage in South Africa for generations. But, in recent years, rooibos has become a buzzword in the United States. Rooibos has found its way into local cafes, tea shops, and even bars and restaurants. Rooibos is being used for cocktails and mixed drinks, making the South African flavor profile more accessible.

South African Wines

South African wines are among the best in the world, and they have gradually made their way into the American wine market. South African wines, such as Pinotage, Chenin Blanc, and Pinot Noir, are now available in liquor stores and wine shops across the United States.

Amarula Cream Liqueur

Amarula Cream Liqueur is a popular South African liqueur. Made from the fruit of the marula tree, Amarula has a creamy, sweet, and nutty taste. Since its launch in the United States, Amarula has become incredibly popular and is a go-to drink for those looking for something different.

Castle Lager

Castle Lager is a popular South African beer, and it has gradually made its way into American bars and liquor stores. Castle Lager is a light, smooth beer that is perfect for drinking on a hot day.

Savanna Cider

Savanna Cider is a refreshing South African cider that is made with the best apples. Savanna is now available in a variety of flavors in the United States. This cider is a perfect drink for those who are looking for something light and refreshing.

Key Takeaways

  • Rooibos tea is an up-and-coming drink in the United States, with its South African flavor gaining popularity.
  • South African wines, such as Pinotage, Chenin Blanc, and Pinot Noir, are now available in liquor stores and wine shops across the US.
  • Amarula Cream Liqueur is a popular South African liqueur that has become increasingly popular in the United States.
  • Castle Lager, a South African beer, is now available in American bars and liquor stores.
  • Savanna Cider, a South African cider, is gaining popularity in the United States, with its refreshing taste and various flavors.

In conclusion, South African alcohol is gradually making its way into the American market, and it is an enjoyable and refreshing change for those looking for something different. Whether you are looking for a new wine, beer, liqueur, or cider, South African alcohol has got you covered.

South African Liqueur: Elephant

Have you ever heard of a liqueur made with elephant dung? Yes, you read it correctly, elephant dung! Don’t worry; it doesn’t sound as awful as you might think. The iconic South African liqueur, Amarula, is made from the fruit of the Marula tree, which is famously known for its popularity among elephants. The pachyderms love to eat the fruit, and as a result, are responsible for spreading the seeds all over the savannah. In addition to feasting on the fruit, the elephants also have an affinity for the tree bark, and this is where the unusual ingredient comes in.

The making process

Here’s how the process goes: the tree bark is collected after the elephants have consumed the fruit. The bark is then fermented to create a beer, which is distilled into a spirit. The final step is to mix the spirit with cream to produce the world-renowned, creamy Amarula liqueur.

The flavor profile

Despite the unusual ingredient, Amarula liqueur has a deliciously sweet aroma with hints of vanilla and caramel. On the palate, it is smooth and creamy, with subtle flavors of chocolate and butterscotch. The liqueur has an alcohol content of 17%, making it perfect for sipping or incorporating into cocktails.

The cultural significance

The Marula tree and the elephants that inhabit it hold a special place in South African culture. For centuries, the tree has been a part of traditional ceremonies, including weddings and initiations. Elephants are also deeply respected and revered within the country and are a symbol of strength, wisdom, and longevity.

Fun facts about Amarula liqueur

  • Amarula liqueur was first introduced in 1989
  • It is one of the most popular alcoholic drinks in South Africa
  • In 2005, Amarula partnered with WildlifeDirect to help conserve African elephants
  • The liqueur has won numerous awards, including a gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition

In conclusion, Amarula liqueur is not only an extraordinary drink but also a symbol of South African culture and heritage. It might sound strange to some, but the use of elephant dung-brewed alcohol is steeped in history and tradition. If you ever have the chance to visit South Africa, be sure to try this unique and delicious liqueur!

South African Alcohol Brands

When it comes to alcohol brands in South Africa, diversity is their middle name. From local craft beers to world-famous wines, there’s no shortage of options for whatever your poison of choice may be. Here are some of the standout South African alcohol brands that you should know about:


  • Castle Lager: A South African classic, this beer has been around since 1895.
  • Black Label: Another well-known brand, Black Label is known for its slogan “It’s a man’s world.”
  • Jack Black’s Brewing Company: A craft brewery that has won numerous awards for its beers, including the coveted Beer of the Year award.


  • Nederburg: One of the most well-known South African wine brands, Nederburg has won numerous awards over the years for their quality wines.
  • KWV: Known for its brandies and fortified wines, KWV also produces a range of popular table wines.
  • Spier: A winery with a commitment to sustainability, Spier produces a wide variety of wines, including some unique blends that are worth trying.


  • Amarula: Made from the fruit of the marula tree, Amarula is a creamy liqueur that is native to South Africa.
  • Klipdrift: South Africa’s best-selling brandy, Klipdrift has been around since 1938.
  • Inverroche: A relative newcomer to the South African spirits scene, Inverroche produces a range of gins and vermouths using local botanicals.


  • Savanna: A popular brand of cider in South Africa, Savanna is known for its witty advertising campaigns.
  • Hunters: Another well-known cider brand, Hunters is available in a range of flavors, including gold, black, and red.

Whether you’re a beer drinker, wine connoisseur, or spirits aficionado, South Africa has something for everyone. So next time you’re looking to try something new, why not give one of these South African alcohol brands a try? Who knows, you might just discover your new favorite drink.

Popular South African Alcoholic Drinks

South Africa is known for a variety of alcoholic beverages that are unique to the country. Here are some of the most popular South African alcoholic drinks:

Amarula Cream Liqueur

Amarula is a cream liqueur made from the Amarula fruit, which is found only in Africa. It has a smooth and creamy taste, with a hint of caramel and vanilla. This drink is best served chilled, and can be enjoyed on its own or mixed with coffee.

Windhoek Lager

Windhoek Lager is a beer that originates from Namibia but is very popular in South Africa. This beer is made from tropical barley, giving it a crisp and refreshing taste. It is the perfect drink to pair with a braai (South African barbecue).

Cape Ruby Port

Cape Ruby Port is a fortified wine that is made from a blend of grapes grown in the Western Cape region of South Africa. This wine has a sweet, rich flavor, with hints of cherry and chocolate. It is often served as a dessert wine.

Rooibos & Gin Cocktail

Rooibos is a South African tea that is known for its health benefits. When mixed with gin, it makes a refreshing and tasty cocktail. The tea gives the drink a unique flavor, and the gin adds a bit of a kick.

Castle Lager

Castle Lager is a South African beer that is brewed by SABMiller. It has a light and refreshing taste, making it the perfect beer for a hot day. This beer is very popular among South Africans.

Klipdrift Brandy

Klipdrift Brandy is a South African brandy that is made from grapes grown in the Western Cape region. It has a smooth and rich flavor, with hints of vanilla and caramel. This brandy is often enjoyed on its own or mixed with Coca-Cola.

Savanna Cider

Savanna Cider is a popular South African cider that is made from apples. It has a crisp and refreshing taste, with a slightly dry finish. This cider is enjoyed by many South Africans, especially during the hot summer months.

South Africa has a variety of unique alcoholic beverages to offer. From creamy liqueurs to refreshing ciders, there is something for everyone. So, next time you’re in South Africa, be sure to try out these popular drinks and discover your favorite!

What Alcohol is Popular in South Africa

South Africans love their booze, and there’s no shortage of local alcoholic beverages to choose from. Here are a few of the most popular drinks found in South Africa:


South Africa has a strong beer culture, with both local and international brands available. Castle Lager, Carling Black Label, and Hansa Pilsner are popular choices; however, craft beers are also gaining popularity.


South Africa is known for its excellent wines, and the country is one of the world’s top wine producers. Some of the most popular wine-producing regions include Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and Paarl.


South African brandy is made from grapes and has a fruity taste similar to that of Cognac. One of the most renowned brandy producers is Van Ryn’s.


South Africa has a growing whisky industry, and local brands like Three Ships and Bains are gaining worldwide recognition.


Gin is a trendy spirit in South Africa, and locally produced brands like Inverroche and Cape Town Gin are gaining popularity.


Amarula is a creamy, sweet liqueur made from the marula fruit. It’s often served over ice or used as a mixer in cocktails.


Cider has become increasingly popular in South Africa, with brands like Savanna and Hunters dominating the market.


Mampoer is a traditional South African brandy made from fruit, often with a high alcohol content. It’s illegal to distill at home, but you can find it at some liquor stores.

In conclusion, South Africa has a diverse and exciting range of alcoholic beverages that are a must-try for any traveler. Whether it’s beer, wine, brandy, gin, or something else, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. So go ahead and sample a few local drinks and experience the unique tastes and flavors that South Africa has to offer.

You May Also Like