Mamajuana – Healing Liquor from the Dominican Republic

Mamajuana is considered a life-giving alcoholic drink and remedy for a long list of diseases. Any tourist coming to this country for the first time will be asked to drink it. This article will let you find out more about this exotic tincture and even better—it will let you make your own homemade Mamajuana.

Mamajuana is a national alcoholic drink of the Dominican Republic, which consists of honey, rum, and (or) wine infused with plant component: wood, bark, leaves, herbs, and spices. The ingredient list can also be complemented with snails, shellfish, sea turtles, iguanas, and caimans. Each producer has its own ingredient list and ratio, and thus different Mamajuanas have different shades, tastes, and ABV. The traditional ingredients contain:

  • Bejuco–a vine-like plant with unique healing properties. This plant is used to heal venomous snake, spider, and scorpion bites.
  • Mucura –grass with a pronounced garlic flavor
  • Uncaria (“cat’s claw”)–only leaves, bark, and root of this plant is used for Mamajuana. These help with cold and flu.
  • Common soapwort–this is a bitter plant, which resembles ginger.

Coconut palm, basil, agave, star anise, lime, rosemary, cinnamon, melis, and other ingredients are also used in dry mixtures.

Historical note. The first tinctures were made by the natives of the Haiti island. Their shamans used this drink to cure female infertility. At the beginning of the XVI century, the island was colonized by the Spaniards, who brought port wine with them.

The name Mamajuana comes from the woven bellied bottle with a thin bottleneck, which fits this tincture perfectly. The Spaniards called this bottle “Dama Juana” or “Mama Juana.” They filled the bottle with natives’ herbs and poured them over with port wine (and later rum).

Bottle of “Dama Juana”

There are three types of Mamajuana that can be purchased in stores: dry in packages for homemade infusion, in bottles with roots, which can be poured over with wine and rum multiple times, and also cleared ready-to-drink Mamajuana.

Dry mixture

With soaked roots

Clear infusion

Useful properties of Mamajuana. The Dominicans believe that if consumed in moderation (30-50 ml) their national treasure of a tincture can:

  • Calm the nervous system
  • Positively affect digestion
  • Strengthen the immune
  • Cure colds
  • Serve as a powerful aphrodisiac—a substance that enhances sexual attraction
  • Restore male power

Mamajuana Recipe

In case you can’t obtain the required ingredients in your country, the only option left would be to purchase a package of roots and herbs from the Dominican Republic. The average price of such sachet is about $16-25, but it can be used up to 30 times.

A dry mixture from the Dominican Republic


  1. Put all of the ingredients in a bottle or a glass jar.
  2. Pour over with cheap alcohol (wine, vodka, brandy or gin), seal, and shake a few times. If strong alcohol is used, infuse the mixture in a dark place for 3-5 days. In case you used wine, infuse it for 30 days. This time is enough for the alcohol to absorb the excessive bitterness. The roots and sticks should become pink.
    3. Decant the alcohol that can’t be drunk afterward. Although it can be used to take baths, it should be disposed of, nevertheless.
  3. After this, Mamajuana can be made in two ways. The first is a tough way that will suit those who love strong liquors. All you have to do is mix 3 parts of liquid honey with 7 parts of dark rum (can be replaced with brandy or whiskey), pour this mixture in the root bottle, seal, shake, and infuse for a few days. After this, you can proceed to taste it. Using vodka instead of rum is not recommended as this will significantly spoil the taste.

The second way is “soft.” Mix two parts of red wine, one part of rum, and two tablespoons of honey. Pour the obtained mixture in the root bottle and infuse for a few days.

With each new infusion the required infusion time should be prolonged (this concerns both methods). One sachet is enough for up to 30 infusions until the roots turn black.

How to Drink Mamajuana

  1. Neat. In the Dominican Republic, this tincture is drunk from shot glasses in one go or in little sips. It should be served cooled down to 20-23°C. Europeans prefer pouring Mamajuana in a whiskey glass with ice. No chaser.
  2. With other drinks. Mamajuana can be diluted with tropical juices: coconut, orange, lemon, pineapple or flat mineral water. The ratios are 1:2 or 1:3 (tincture to juice or water). In some bars, Mamajuana is used instead of rum in Mojito or Caipirinha cocktails, which gives these drinks an original spicy flavor.

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