Cocktails and Sunsets in Africa’s Eden

There are few moments as ubiquitous to Southern Africa as when the sun sets below the horizon. In fact, if you have ever been to Africa, you likely just let out a sigh as the memories flooded back.

What was your favourite sundowner spot in Africa’s Eden? Was it standing on the beach in Swakopmund as the Atlantic wind wiped through your hair? Maybe it was sipping a gin and tonic while atop a kopje in Matobo National Park. If you want to recreate some of the delicious cocktails reminiscent of enjoying sundowners in Southern Africa, check out these simple recipes.

What is a sundowner?

To avoid any confusion, let’s first explain that a sundowner is basically a drink you have as the sun sets. However, in Africa’s Eden, sundowners are more than just grabbing a drink. It’s about tradition, ritual, relaxing at the end of another gorgeous day in Africa and catching up with your chinas.

Sundowners at Kazuma Forest Reserve

Pandamatenga is a farming community in Northern Botswana. Although the residents enjoy their sundowners, it might seem an initially unlikely spot to find tourists. However, once you get there, you’ll discover the magic of the Kazuma Forest Reserve and Wildtrack Safaris Eco Lodge.

Kazuma Forest Reserve boasts one of the world’s busiest elephant corridors. It joins two of the most incredible parks: Chobe National Park in Botswana and Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. Kazuma boasts a staggering 20.000 hectares of woodland reserve and is an oasis for more than 196 bird species. In addition, Kazuma is home to a wide variety of animals, including:

  • Wildebeest
  • Buffalo
  • Roan
  • Sable
  • Eland
  • Tsessebe
  • Giraffe
  • Elephant
  • Leopard
  • Cheetah
  • and Lion

Here’s how to make a Wildtrack’s Lions Tail Cocktail – the ideal way to send your taste buds on an amazing safari!

Wildtrack’s Lions Tail Cocktail

Ingredients:
60ml Bourbon
50 ml Spiced Rum
50ml Freshly squeezed lime/lemon juice
A generous dash or two aromatic bitters
Two Cinnamon sticks
And a slice of Orange and Salt to garnish

Method:
Press the moist rim of your glass into some salt – not too much, but this really brings the flavours together.
Add all of the other ingredients, in any order and one stick of cinnamon
Give it a good shake with crushed ice and serve in the cocktail glass of your choice
Add a little extra crushed ice if needed
Garnish with an orange slice and the other stick of cinnamon.

Sundowners by the Zambezi River

Travellers and residents alike genuinely are spoiled for choice when it comes to iconic locations for sundowners in Africa’s Eden. Nevertheless, a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River would undoubtedly top almost everyone’s travel bucket list.

Whether you hop on a boat from the Zimbabwean or Zambian side of the Zambezi River, you’ll meander alongside the Zambezi National Park and the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. With a Zambezi cocktail in hand, sightings often include seeing hippos wallowing, elephants swimming and a journey of giraffe loping along in the distance.

The Victoria Falls Waterfront is an iconic sunset spot for any visitor to Livingstone. In fact, if you ever want to know the ‘it’ place to be on the weekend, then ask a local. In Livingstone, they will tell you that Friday evenings are all about sundowners at The Waterfront. Here’s how to make one of their most legendary drinks at home.

A Blue Zambezi Cocktail ready for sundowners at Victoria Falls Waterfront in Livingstone Zambia beside the Zambezi River

Blue Waterfront

Ingredients:
Ice
Sprite
1 Shot Lime and Lemon Juice Mix
1 Shot Blue Bols
1 Shot Gin
1 Shot Vodka

Method:
Place some ice and half fill your cocktail glass with sprite.
Get your cocktail shaker and add ice, lime and lemon juice, Blue Bols, Gordons Gin and Smirnoff Vodka, shake well!
Fully pour all the ingredients from the cocktail shaker into the glass over the ice and sprite.
Serve with a slice of lemon.

Creating sundowners with Probar - the gin sour ingredients including gin and plenty of fresh citrus fruits

Probar’s Triple Three Citrus Grapefruit Gin Sour

Gin is one of the most enduring spirits consumed for centuries by visitors and locals. Crafted by infusing base spirit with various botanicals, gin has taken the world by storm once again in the last few years. Today some of the best gin on earth is made in southern Africa, and this cocktail demonstrates a different way to use the fabulous gin.

Gin Sours are traditionally made with gin, lemon juice and simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar dissolved over heat). They emerged in the late 1800s and have been quietly enjoyed ever since, with the egg being added in the 1930s. The mixologists at Probar love this change which uses egg whites (or aquafaba, the water in a can of chickpeas, if you’re egg averse) to create a lovely foam and grapefruit juice to complement the incredible Triple Three Citrus gin. Don’t forget to use a shaker to help make that beautiful foam!

Ingredients:
50ml Triple Three Citrus Gin
50ml Grapefruit Juice
25ml Lemon Juice
25ml Simple Syrup
1 Egg White
Handful of Ice
Grapefruit Zest to Garnish

Method:
Put all ingredients into a cocktail shaker (or a large jam jar with a properly closing lid).
Shake vigorously until the shaker or jam jar feels very cold.
Strain into whisky tumblers or your favourite gin glass over ice. Garnish with Grapefruit peel or zest. ENJOY!

Notes:
You could use oranges and orange juice if you prefer – even something exotic like nartjies and nartjie juice.
If you don’t eat or like eggs, you can use aquafaba – the juice in a can of chickpeas – it works just as well!
Simple syrup is made very quickly with equal parts of sugar and water heated on a stove till all the sugar is dissolved.

Sundowners in Livingstone Town

The town of Livingstone holds a distinctly African flair. There are ample international hotels and restaurants and open-air markets where locals shop for everyday items like vegetables, second-hand clothes, and hardware. If you are searching for a genuine African experience, we highly recommend contacting a local travel agent and arranging a walking tour.

The Livingstone Museum proudly stands in the centre of Livingstone’s CBD and is the largest museum in Zambia. Directly behind, you’ll find Jollyboys Backpackers Lodge, an oasis for budget travellers and a pioneer of the tourism industry in Livingstone. Operational for more than a quarter-century, you can expect fantastic service, a sparkling pool, loads of mango trees, and Jolly Juice – a deceivingly delicious cocktail!

A smiling bartender putting the finishing touches on a Jolly Juice cocktail at Jollyboys Backpackers

Jolly Juice

Ingredients:
Ice
Double Shot Citrus Flavoured Gin.
½ Soda Water ½ Tonic ½ Shot Grenadine.
Garnish with lime slices, mint and rosemary.

Method:
Fill your cocktail glass with ice
Add your double shot of citrus flavoured Gin
Add ½ Soda Water ½ Tonic.
Garnish with Lime, Mint and Rosemary.
Gently pour ½ Shot Grenadine over the top.

Sundowners in South Luangwa National Park

Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park is well known as the birthplace of walking safaris. When trekking on foot in terrain also famous for the density of leopard sightings, it isn’t surprising that safari guests are going to enjoy an equally adventurous cocktail at sunset. Guests at Mfuwe Lodge don’t leave the wilderness behind them as they walk through the door. In fact, elephants and hippos are common visitors to the lodge and are known to literally walk through the front entrance and make themselves at home!

Gin and Tonic sundowner with chilli swizel stick

The Bushcamp Company’s Spicy Gin & Tonic

Stopping for sunset and enjoying a drink in South Luangwa calls for a cocktail with a bit more oomph and pizzazz. That’s why we are in love with this simple yet spicy G&T from The Bushcamp Company. It’s easy to recreate at home and will have your guests clinking glasses to your ingenuity.

Ingredients
Local craft gin
Quality tonic water
Lime wedges
Ice
A bright, long and vibrant bird’s eye chilli pepper

Method
Add ice to a tall glass
Pour a generous tot of your favourite local craft gin
Squeeze a lime and add a few wedges to the glass
Pour over your favourite brand of tonic
Add a chilli pepper and use as a stir stick

Foraging for Cocktails

Foraging is a time-honouring tradition worldwide. Survival required knowing which plants were toxic, which could cure fever or which others were delicious. Today, foraging has seen a resurgence as locals and travellers seek more information and connection to their surroundings.

If you are looking for a genuinely Zambian cocktail, you need to check out these recipes from The Elephant Café and The River Club in Zambia.

Welcome drinks at the Elephant Cafe in Livingstone, Zambia - the perfect spot for sundowners

The Elephant Café’s Wild Kir Royale

The Wild Kir Royale with Sindambi Syrup is served as a welcome drink at The Elephant Café in Livingstone, Zambia. Sip this tasty local cocktail on the banks of the Zambezi in the heart of the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park.

Ingredients:
Sparkling Wine
Sindambi Syrup

Method:
Pour Sparkline wine into a champagne flute and top with a dash of homemade Sindambi Syrup.
* Scarlet Sindambi is a wild hibiscus that is made into a syrup. It is used instead of cassis to give this cocktail a local Zambian flare

Enjoying a sundowner by the Zambezi River in Zambia's Western Province

Iconic African G!N’s Chena

Kuomboka is a traditional ceremony of Zambia’s Lozi people and signifies the movement from the lower plains to higher ground with a royal entourage. Travel to Barotseland in Western Zambia and get a lift, as this cocktail will take you to a higher level. Mongu rice is famous in Southern Africa and makes the essential base ingredient for a Chena cocktail.

Ingredients:
A scoop of Mongu rice
A shot of Iconic African Gin
A shot of Amarula
One scoop of vanilla ice cream
A drizzle of some salted caramel syrup

Method:
Add the first four ingredients to a blender and combine
Pour into a chilled glass and drizzle with the salted caramel syrup
Serve immediately with a thick straw

 

The River Club’s Mahuluhulu Loop Cocktail served in a Monkey Orange

The River Club’s Mahuluhulu Loop

This Mahuluhulu Loop, infused with local seasonal ingredients, forms part of The River Club’s Swim & Tonic menu – so named due to the lodge’s position right on the banks of the might Zambezi. Created by the lodge’s Executive Head Chef, Tawanda Gatawa, this cocktail delivers exceptional flavours and tempts taste buds.

It is best enjoyed whilst playing a game of boules or croquet on The River Club lawns, in the beautiful and relaxing Summer House, or in one of the many vantage points of the Zambezi River. A Mahuluhulu Loop is a delightful addition to a warm afternoon and makes an ideal sundowner cocktail. After all, most enjoy a Gin & Tonic while on safari, so why not try something more uniquely Zambian?

Mahulu Syrup Ingredients:
100g sugar
300m water
1 large Monkey Orange

Method:
Crack open the Mahuluhulu fruit and combine the seeds (and juices) and about 250ml water in a small pan and heat over medium heat
Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let cook for about 10 minutes
Strain the sauce to remove the seeds using a sieve over a bowl – press the sauce through with a spoon
Pour the remaining water through the sieve and put the sauce back into the pot
Add sugar and warm on medium heat
Keep stirring until the sugar has melted
Remove the heat and let cool to room temperature
Chill for 2 hours

Cocktail Recipe:
In a tall glass, add ice until full
Add 60ml gin
Add 60ml Mahuluhulu syrup
Fill with tonic water and garlic
Add a lemon slice to garnish

Sundowners in Victoria Falls Town

Ask the locals. They will tell you that there is no better place to enjoy sundowners in Victoria Falls than at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge’s renowned Buffalo Bar. It has all the necessary ingredients for the perfect sundowner – panoramic views to the horizon over the African bush, spectacular sunsets and a waterhole frequented by elephants, buffalo, kudu and other wildlife. It is a real celebration of the magic of Africa! As well as the Buffalo Bar sunset cocktail, others on offer include a green apple and coconut frozen daiquiri, a dirty martini and pomegranate and apple G&T. For those wanting to linger a little longer; there’s a great tapas menu or an option to create your own pizzas.

Buffalo Bar bright and fruity cocktail at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge overlooking the watering hole just in time for sundowners

Buffalo Bar Sunset Cocktail Recipe from Victoria Falls Safari Lodge

Ingredients:
40mls Bacardi rum
35mls of blood orange syrup
40mls of cranberry juice
Splash of lemon juice
100mls of orange juice

Method:
Mix Bacardi rum, blood orange syrup and cranberry juice
Shake with ice and pour into a glass
Add a splash of lemon juice. Finish with orange juice and garnish with orange