Pictures from Senegal

Thursday, May 5

Liqueurs de Warang

It’s time for another bucket list check mark! I found myself accidently walking into the perfect opportunity to participate in a fun activity simply by being in the right place at the right time. Waking up in Dakar, I was presented with three friends headed to Warang- a destination not too far from Mboro- for the morning. Located just east of a popular tourist town, off the road headed to lesser known sightseeing treasures, is the distillery and tasting room of the Liqueurs de Warang.

By tasting room I mean a backyard with pond, flower and ornamental tree garden, and a long, winding, covered bar. The pond had real lily pads and fish in it and the distillery resembled a ranch house bred with a barn. For decoration beautifully colored place mats- made from palm fronds and frequently exported in laundry hamper form- were hung like enlarged wind chimes spinning in the light breeze. 

There were quite a few other tourists when we arrived, but they quickly worked their way through the tastings and meandered elsewhere for, presumably, lunch plans. My cab of four was left with another cab of volunteers who’d had the same idea but a different jumping off point than Dakar. Our clan quickly became chummy with the barkeep as we learned about the day’s offerings and worked our way through them more than once. By the end everyone lined up for the PC discount on their favorite bottles:

Our first sample reminded me a lot more of Senegalese tea than the cashew apple it was reportedly brewed with. The whole apple, plus the nut, is processed in what I can only describe as pickling-esque fashion. We were not allowed to see the distillery but a demonstration jar was up for display. It doesn’t matter, really, because once you drink whiskey colored shot you’ve all but forgotten about the cashews and are instantly transported to a snowy winter cabin with roaring fireplace and laced mugs of peppermint hot chocolate- sans chocolate!

This flavor is a hybrid of ginger and bissap. I found it very sweet with the taste of alcohol taking the lead on the sensory deciphers. I commenting to friends that it would probably taste great mixed with Tonic, Orangina, or any other lightly flavored carbonated drinks. This boozy concoction reminds me of a remote island getaway with expansive white sandy beaches and bungalows. Call over the cabana boy and make sure he brings ice!

Tada! This “plus” flavor means more ginger is prevalent. While I couldn’t necessarily taste the addition, I did remark that this mixture seemed noticeably less potent than the previous. It would not need a mixer in future and, as the bar-keep advertised, this liqueur was perfect for a “nice night.” I add to that by envisioning a summer barbecue with good friends and music where this liqueur is chilled and served in Dixie cups with your slice of watermelon for dessert. Or made into jell-o shots!

Thick, juicy, fruity… very much like someone threw a few guavas in a blender with a splash of rum. If it’s called pulp in this instance then it's there; the blender was set to pulverize. Don’t worry, it doesn’t take away from the high quality taste, if anything it lends it a completely unique excellence compared to the rest of the tastings. Consider this a great alternative to your usual Mimosa, or maybe even a Bloody Mary, at the next Sex and The City inspired Sunday brunch you host with the girls.

3 Citrus
Or next tasting was comprised of orange, lemon and grapefruit. It was sour and boozy… and honestly had my taste buds screaming “LEMON DROP” much like the shot at home (sugar and lemon already mixed in). Throw a bit in your chicken’s marinade for the next spring barbecue or, for a younger crowd, take a bottle to the next frat party and make some friends. If you can’t figure it out: I’m not a huge fan of lemon drops. But this is surely a great Senegalese stunt double, so enjoy.

Crème de Warang
Close your eyes and imagine the following. It’s your favorite holiday. Somehow you haven’t eaten as much as a Peace Corps Volunteer dreams and there’s still room for dessert. How about an ice cream Sunday? You’ve cleaned out your guava laden blender and decide to opt for the liquid version of this treat. Throw in chocolate, cream and a few ripe bananas. You’re in the mood for a twist so you throw in coffee and hit pulverize once more. The best alcoholic milk shake of your life comes out; it’s sweet and creamy like you could never imagine. This tasty indulgence is the perfect end to any holiday, relaxed gathering, or random detour from Dakar back to Mboro.

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