Holidays are about relaxing, trying new things and taking in the sights, sounds and flavours of an exotic location. Travellers who like to build their excitement before embarking on their trip will often do some research on what to see, what to eat, and even what to drink in their dream destination. In this article we would like to help you with the last question, what should you drink in Madagascar? Here is a clue: it’s the favourite tipple of pernicious pirates… the answer is rum of course.
Rum and tropical island holidays go hand in hand, whether it’s fresh fruit daiquiris, piña coladas or mojitos there’s no better way to enjoy a sultry summer evening surrounded by fine white sand, tropical flowers and palm fronds while sipping on some delicious rum. Under French rule, Madagascar became a top producer of sugar cane, the main ingredient in rum, which means they’ve had some time to perfect the fine art of creating this romantic drink. Madagascar is known for three types of rum, read below to find out more.
Rhum Arrangé – Quite literally translated to arranged rum. This is homemade rum that is infused with a variety of flavours which can be anything from ginger to lychee. The rum is then kept in a glass bottle or jar and macerates for a period of a few weeks or a few month depending on the ingredients. This flavoured rum is usually found in hotels or restaurants and is served after dinner as a digestif. Here is where the Malagasy have truly turned drinking rum into an art form. Each restaurant will have its own blend and you can choose from dozens of flavours such as vanilla, lemon, hibiscus, honeycomb, and cinnamon.
Dzama Rum – A more expensive top of the range rum, some would even say the best in the world. It comes from the aromatic island of Nosy Be known for producing the fragrant flower ylang ylang used in perfumes and essential oils, as well as vanilla, citrus, cloves and peppercorns. The rich volcanic soil of the area produces the best sugar cane, this combined with the subtle spices and flavours of the region’s terroir mentioned previously creates an award-winning rum that is sold and sought after throughout the world. You can find it all over Madagascar and should you find yourself in Nosy Be consider buying it as a special souvenir of the region.
Toaka Gasy – Practically moonshine, this is rum that is made by locals in their villages. Each village will have a specific blend and as it is “homemade” and not strictly regulated it can be incredibly strong. Some say even strong enough to raise the dead. It is for everyday drinking as well as special occasions such as marriages, sacrifice ceremonies, circumcisions and Famadihanas. Some say a sniff of Toaka Gasy may even singe off your nose hairs, so do exercise caution if it is offered to you.
As to what not to drink? The tap water. Be sure to only drink bottled water and make sure the water you use for brushing your teeth is treated as well. You don’t want to combine a potent Toaka Gasy hangover with an upset stomach and spend a portion of your holiday confined to your bedroom and bathroom missing out on all that Madagascar has to offer. Rather stick to delicious rum, fresh fruit juice or fragrant tea.