Amarula has a new-look pack that will soon find its way onto local shelves. Nothing inside has changed, but the sleeker, taller and trendier bottle comes dressed in warmer, more enticing tones.

Thinking about classic tastes, what they bring from the past and what they take to the future, prompted the idea of the Amarula Retro & Renew challenge, exclusive to South African lifestyle food and drink bloggers.

What Amarula did was ask bloggers like me to create new and original cocktail recipes, and this was the brief:

All you have to do is work from a classical cocktail recipe and, by including Amarula in the mix, give it a fresh, original and contemporary touch.

After more bending of rubber arms than you would believe, I decided to come to the party. I’d already mastered such classics as the dirty gin Martini, the shaken Margarita, that classic ‘pink drink’ known as the Cosmo, and - my favourite - the Pornstar Mojito. Why not try something with a bit more of an African twist? Amarula is, after all, made from that tart golden berry that’s been rumoured to make even an elephant drunk…

So, one Friday sundown, armed with 750 ml genuine Amarula Cream liqueur, a couple of clunking shopping bags that were a sure-fire sign of yet another long night (oh, the hardship), and one times shiny new cocktail shaker just itching to be broken in, this is what I came up with: Not one but SIX cocktail lovers’ eat-your-heart-outs. I’m such an over-achiever.

Have a read-through and tell me which ones you think sound best… and if you think I should be crowned Queen of Cocktails. :)

African Cream Espresso Martini
1 shot (30 ml) Amarula
1.5 shots (45 ml) vodka
1.5 shots (45 ml) Kahlua coffee liqueur
3 shots (90 ml) espresso
1 teaspoon / 5ml dark chocolate shavings
3 or 4 coffee beans
Biscotti as an optional accompaniment
Ice cubes

Brew fresh espresso. Pour into a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice cubes and add Amarula, vodka and Kahlua. Shake well, strain into a frosted martini glass, and decorate the centre with chocolate shavings and coffee beans. Serve on a sultry summer evening after dinner as a delicious and tantalising alternative to coffee with biscotti on the side.

Original recipe: Espresso martini

amarula espresso martini

Wild White Russian
1 shot (30 ml) Amarula
1 shot (30 ml) vodka
1 shot (30 ml) Kahlua coffee liqueur
Chocolate wafer roll
Ice cubes

Put some ice into a shaker and add the Amarula, vodka and Kahlua. Shake until a frost forms on the outside of the shaker. Fill an old-fashioned glass with ice and strain the cocktail over it. Serve as a nightcap with a chocolate wafer roll.

Original recipe: White Russian

African Connection

1 shot (30 ml) Amarula
1 shot (30 ml) cognac/brandy
1 shot (30 ml) Amaretto liqueur
1 fresh strawberry
Ice cubes

Pour all ingredients directly into a snifter with ice cubes. Stir gently. Top with a fresh strawberry. Serve after dinner on a winter night in front of a fireplace.

Original recipe: French Connection

Amarula Alexander

1 shot (30 ml) Amarula
1 shot (30 ml) cognac/brandy
1 shot (30 ml) Nachtmusik / similar chocolate liqueur
A pinch of nutmeg
Ice cubes

Shake Amarula, brandy and chocolate liqueur in a shaker half-filled with ice cubes. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with grated nutmeg. Enjoy on its own at a vibey cocktail bar or as a dessert drink at a trendy restaurant.

Original recipe: Brandy Alexander

Amarula Alexander

Wild African Smoothie

3 shots (90 ml) Amarula
1 shot (30 ml) vodka
3 scoop(s) chocolate ice cream
Whipped cream
1 teaspoon / 5 ml chocolate shavings
1 Ferrero Rocher

Blend ice cream until smooth. Add the Amarula and the vodka while blending. Pour into a large wine glass and garnish with whipped cream, sprinkled with grated chocolate and topped with a Ferrero Rocher. Serve with two halves of a straw as a dessert drink after a light meal.

Original recipe: A & J Smoothie

Elephant’s Reverie

2 shots (60 ml) Amarula
1 shot (30 ml) Frangelico
Half shot (15 ml) banana liqueur
Half shot (15 ml) pouring cream
Pinch of chocolate powder (hot chocolate or cocoa)
1 fresh cherry
Ice cubes

Blend ingredients with 1 cup of ice until smooth and pour into a highball glass. Sprinkle with chocolate powder, top with a fresh cherry and serve with a straw on a sweltering day at a beach bar.

Original cocktail: Abbot’s Dream