What is mamajuana?

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The Quintessential Dominican Spirit

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“Before rum, there was mamajuana…”

One of the first distilled spirits in the Americas, mamajuana is the product of the Taino Indian’s herbal tea combined with European alcohol (that makes Christopher Columbus one of the first mixologists). Thus mamajuana was born and many Dominicans began concocting their own recipes. Most households had their own distinct version, and many began to sell their homemade creations.

That was, until Dominican dictator, Rafael Trujillo, caught on to the “epidemic” of the rumored aphrodisiac spirit. His biggest fear: population growth. As a result, he issued a decree forbidding the sale of mamajuana without a medical license.

As a result, this legendary “liquid viagra” born from a bottle of alcohol and barks stowed in abuelita’s basement was now the signature underground drink of the Dominican Republic.


“Barks, spice and everything nice.”

The selection of herbs and barks used in the making of mamajuana is credited to the native Taino Indians. The combination of sticks, roots and barks were chosen for their health benefits.

When paired with alcohol (which extracts the medicinal properties of the herbs and barks), mamajuana is reported to have curative properties. It has been used as a cold and flu remedy, an aid in digestion and circulation, and most famously, as a stimulant for sexual desire.

It’s a simple recipe: tree barks + herbs + spices + honey soaked in sugar cane alcohol. Some recipes also include wine.

Let these ingredients steep and voilà!


mamajuana herbs 2.jpg

mamajuana herbs 2.jpg


“Not all mamajuanas are created equal.”

You can find mamajuana in 3 distinct formats:

  1.  DIY Mamajuana: a bag of dry mamajuana base ingredients. Add alcohol, honey.
  2.  Ready-to-drink: with tree barks soaking in the bottle.
  3.  Ready-to-drink: filtered  (aka. "premium mamajuanas").

Candela is a Ready-to-drink, premium mamajuana. (Buy online). 


“Dame Candela, por favor.”

The most common way to drink mamajuana is straight: just pour room-temperature mamajuana in a glass. Plain and simple. This is how most people in the Dominican Republic drink it.

How We Like It

We recommend drinking Candela:

  • As a shot. Serve Candela at room temperature to highlight its distinct flavor notes.
  • In cocktails. Candela is smooth, has a distinct flavor and a subtle sweetness. This makes it a superb base spirit in many cocktail recipes. There's a reason why mixologists love Candela.
    • Candela makes a phenomenal Old Fashioned (pictured), Dominican Mule and many other cocktails.
    • See our recipes in the Cocktails page.
candela mamajuana old fashioned