Travel | Dominican Republic’s Famed Mamajuana Elixir + How to Make Your Own

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As if you need help relaxing at the already serene Luxury Bahia Principe Cayo Levantado resort in Samaná, in the Dominican Republic, this adults-only property offers an extensive variety of soothing treatments and services at its Bahia Spa — including one that utilizes the Dominican Republic indigenous drink of herbs and tree bark macerated with rum, red wine, and honey.

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The spa feels like an oasis in the middle of a rainforest paradise. Each window overlooks a lush, green tropical scene with countless palms, banana trees, and various flowering plants. Here, I was treated to the resort’s exclusive Mamajuana Spa Treatment ― a full body massage incorporating the mamajuana, an alcohol-spiked modernization of the herbal tea the island’s indigenous Taino people called “the elixir of fertility.”

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Today, besides being rumored to be an aphrodisiac, this beverage is also consumed for its reputed medicinal value. The alcohol is believed by many to extract the herbs’ curative properties, creating a healthful tincture, often served as a shot — when it’s not being used for a luxurious massage.

The massage was honestly one of the best I’ve had. It loosened my muscles, relieved tension (especially in my lower back), and wasn’t too hard or rough in terms of pressure or technique. After the massage, I was calm and rejuvenated ― and ready for a nice nap.

Post massage, guests are welcome to enjoy the spa’s many facilities, including its Turkish bath, Finnish sauna, tropical storm shower, and bubble beds. We were also given a shot of the mamajuana to sip on while we took full advantage of the gorgeous indoor pool area. The pool was cool and refreshing ― the perfect ending to the spa experience.

If you don’t find yourself in a vacation destination, don’t worry. Just because vacation is over (or never actually got started,) doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself to the refreshing tropical cocktails of the Caribbean! For the adventurous at-home-mixologist, try creating your very own bottle of Mamajuana, the drink the Dominican Republic is most famous for.
mamajuanaAs one of the most traditional drinks of the area, it’s a deliciously potent brew of rum, red wine, and honey that has been soaked in twigs, bark, and herbs. This mix of ingredients creates an intense, complex, and sweet libation that is perfect for getting any party started.

Ingredients:
Red Wine
Rum
Honey
Dominican Plants (Indian bejuco, palo Brazil, canelilla, anamu, behuco caro, timacle, maguey, marabel, sweet nail, behuco, or sweet cloves)

Prep:
Start by bottling the aromatic plants with three tablespoons of honey and wine. Marinate or “cure” for a week or so. After one week, remove most of the wine from the bottle (leaving only a little) and pour the rum in. Many will add spices such as cinnamon, sweet cloves, vanilla, star anise, or/and ginger. Let the mixture marinate with the plants and herbs for another week. Pour over ice and enjoy!

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