South Africa: 43 Drinks You’ll Love: Spirits | Cocktails | Wine | Beer | Alcohol-free

Discover the wide spectrum of drinks unique to or popular in South Africa, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic – showcasing the country’s diverse culture and rich agricultural heritage through every sip and pour. Whether it’s the traditional spirits like Amarula, local wines like Pinotage, innovative craft beers and cocktails, or the wholesome goodness of Rooibos tea and refreshing soft drinks, each drink tells a story of the land and its people.

1. South African Spirits

South Africa’s spirits market is rich with diversity, offering everything from traditional liquors to innovative craft spirits. Distillers across the country utilize local ingredients, creating unique flavors that reflect South Africa’s vibrant culture and rich agricultural heritage.

1.1. South African Liquor

South African liquor includes a range of high-quality whiskeys, brandies, gins, and more, each with its own unique character. These liquors are often made with indigenous ingredients, showcasing the country’s ability to produce world-class spirits that stand out on the global stage.

1) Whiskey from South Africa

J&B Scotch Whisky
  • Blended Scotch whisky

J&B Scotch Whisky, a popular blend from South Africa, combines rich flavors and a smooth finish. Originating from a global brand, it holds a special place in South African bars for its versatile appeal in cocktails and neat servings.

Bains Cape Mountain Whisky
  • Single grain whisky

Bains Cape Mountain Whisky stands out as South Africa’s first single grain whisky, celebrated for its exceptional smoothness and vanilla oak flavors. Crafted in the Cape Mountains, it reflects the unique South African terroir.

Three Ships Whisky
  • Blended and single malt

Three Ships Whisky is a pioneer in the South African whisky scene, offering both blended and single malt varieties. Known for its world-class quality, it has received numerous international awards, showcasing the best of South African craftsmanship.

2) Brandy from South Africa

Klipdrift Brandy
  • Premium South African brandy

Klipdrift Brandy, a household name in South Africa, is revered for its rich, smooth taste and golden amber hue. Distilled in the heart of the Robertson Wine Valley, it embodies the spirit of South African brandy excellence.

Oude Meester Brandy
  • Superior aged brandy

Oude Meester Brandy is synonymous with sophistication and quality. Aged in French oak barrels, it delivers a complex bouquet of aromas and flavors, making it a favorite among connoisseurs of fine South African spirits.

Richelieu Brandy
  • Traditional French-style brandy

Richelieu Brandy is a classic expression of French-inspired brandy craftsmanship, adapted to the South African palate. Its smooth, mellow flavor profile makes it a versatile spirit for both sipping and mixing in cocktails.

Commando Brandy
  • Vintage-style South African brandy

Commando Brandy, with its rich history and robust flavor, pays homage to South Africa’s heritage. It offers a bold, full-bodied taste, perfect for those who appreciate a stronger spirit with a deep, aromatic profile.

3) Gin from South Africa

Inverroche Gin
  • Craft gin with fynbos botanicals

Inverroche Gin is at the forefront of the South African craft gin movement, distinguished by its use of local fynbos botanicals. This gives it a unique flavor profile, connecting drinkers to the diverse South African landscape.

Six Dogs Blue Gin
  • Floral-infused craft gin

Six Dogs Blue Gin captivates with its distinctive blue color, derived from the blue pea flower. Beyond its visual appeal, it offers a harmonious blend of traditional and contemporary botanicals, reflecting the innovative spirit of South African gin makers.

Musgrave Gin
  • Aromatic African botanicals gin

Musgrave Gin is celebrated for incorporating rare African botanicals, creating a rich tapestry of flavors. It’s a testament to the continent’s biodiversity, offering a taste experience that’s both exotic and familiar.

4) Tequila from South Africa

Karoo Agave
  • South African agave spirit

Karoo Agave, often likened to tequila, showcases the versatility of South African distilleries. Using agave plants from the Karoo region, it delivers a unique, earthy flavor profile that stands out in the world of spirits.

1.2. South African Liqueurs

South African liqueurs are known for their rich flavors and creative use of local fruits and herbs. From the creamy Amarula to the spicy Van der Hum, these liqueurs offer a taste of South Africa’s diverse and lush landscape, perfect for sipping or as a base in cocktails.

5) Amarula

  • Fruit cream liqueur

Amarula is a creamy liqueur from South Africa, made from the fruit of the Marula tree. It’s known for its rich, caramel flavor and is often enjoyed over ice or in desserts.

6) Cape Velvet Cream

  • Creamy liqueur

Cape Velvet Cream is a smooth, velvety liqueur from South Africa, blending cream with distilled spirits. It’s a favorite for its luxurious texture and is great in coffee or on its own.

7) Van der Hum

  • Citrus liqueur

Van der Hum is a traditional South African liqueur, flavored with spices and naartjie, a local citrus fruit. It’s perfect for sipping after dinner and adds a unique twist to cocktails.

8) Chococello

  • Chocolate liqueur

Chococello is a South African chocolate liqueur, combining the richness of chocolate with the smoothness of liqueur. It’s a hit in dessert cocktails or as a sweet end to a meal.

9) Honeybush Liqueur

  • Herbal liqueur

Honeybush Liqueur is inspired by South Africa’s honeybush tea, known for its sweet, honey-like taste. This liqueur is a sweet treat, ideal for mixing in cocktails or enjoying by itself.

10) Peppermint Liqueur

  • Mint-flavored liqueur

Peppermint Liqueur from South Africa offers a cool, refreshing mint flavor. It’s popular as an after-dinner drink and is also used to add a minty kick to cocktails and desserts.

1.3. Other South African Spirits

11) Mampoer

  • Fruit brandy

Mampoer is a potent South African fruit brandy, traditionally homemade from fermented fruit. It’s known for its strong kick and is often enjoyed in small sips.

12) Witblits

  • Grape brandy

Witblits, meaning “white lightning” in Afrikaans, is a clear grape brandy from South Africa. It’s very strong and usually homemade, with a long history in the country’s rural areas.

13) Mainstay

  • Cane spirit

Mainstay is a South African cane spirit, known for its versatility and smooth taste. It’s a popular base for cocktails and is also enjoyed neat or with mixers.

2. South African Cocktails & Alcoholic Mixed Drinks

South Africa’s cocktail scene is as dynamic and colorful as its culture, blending traditional recipes with modern twists. Utilizing local spirits, wines, and fresh ingredients, these drinks capture the essence of South African hospitality and innovation, making each sip a celebration.

2.1. South African Cocktails & Mixed Drinks

14) Cape Town Pink Lady

  • Brandy and grenadine cocktail

The Cape Town Pink Lady is a delightful cocktail that combines South African brandy with grenadine and citrus, creating a beautifully colored and refreshing drink. It’s a popular choice in Cape Town’s vibrant bars and restaurants, embodying the city’s cosmopolitan flair.

15) Durbanville Hills

  • Brandy-based cocktail

Named after the famous wine region, the Durbanville Hills cocktail is a testament to South Africa’s fine brandy and wine culture. This cocktail blends brandy with local wine and fresh ingredients, offering a taste that’s as sophisticated as the region itself.

16) Kalahari Oasis

  • Exotic brandy cocktail

The Kalahari Oasis is an adventurous cocktail inspired by the vast Kalahari Desert. It mixes South African brandy with tropical juices and a splash of soda, creating a refreshing drink that’s as intriguing as the desert it’s named after.

17) Springbokkie Shooter

  • Layered peppermint and cream liqueur

The Springbokkie Shooter is a popular South African shooter, layering vibrant green peppermint liqueur with creamy Amarula, mirroring the national colors. It’s a festive, sweet, and creamy shot, often served at rugby matches and celebrations.

18) Rock Shandy

  • Lemonade and soda water mix

The Rock Shandy is a beloved South African refresher, made with equal parts lemonade and soda water, and a dash of bitters. It’s the perfect thirst-quencher for hot summer days, often garnished with a slice of lemon or a sprig of mint.

19) Protea Cocktail

  • Floral and fruity mixed drink

Inspired by South Africa’s national flower, the Protea Cocktail is a delightful mix of floral gin, rooibos syrup, and fresh lemon juice. This drink captures the essence of South Africa’s natural beauty and diverse floral kingdom.

20) Fynbos G&T

  • Gin and tonic with a twist

The Fynbos G&T is a unique South African take on the classic gin and tonic, incorporating local fynbos herbs to add a distinctive, aromatic flavor. This drink celebrates South Africa’s rich botanical heritage, making it a refreshing and aromatic choice for gin enthusiasts.

21) Bo-Kaap Rocks

  • Cocktail with cultural heritage

Named after the colorful Bo-Kaap area in Cape Town, the Bo-Kaap Rocks cocktail is a vibrant mix of local ingredients and flavors, embodying the multicultural spirit of the neighborhood. It’s a celebration of South African diversity in a glass.

2.2. Hot South African Alcoholic Beverages

22) Amarula Coffee

  • Creamy coffee with Amarula

Amarula Coffee is a warm, comforting drink, perfect for chilly evenings. It combines hot coffee with a generous shot of Amarula cream liqueur, topped with whipped cream. This drink is a favorite in South African cafes and homes, especially during winter.

23) Hotnots-Koffie

  • Spiced coffee with brandy

Hotnots-Koffie is a traditional South African spiced coffee, enhanced with a shot of local brandy. Infused with spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, it’s a warming and invigorating beverage that reflects South Africa’s rich cultural heritage and love for coffee.

24) Cape Malay Tea Latte

  • Spiced rooibos tea latte

The Cape Malay Tea Latte is a fragrant, spiced drink inspired by the Cape Malay community. It uses rooibos tea, a South African staple, steamed with a blend of traditional Cape Malay spices and frothed milk. This tea latte is a comforting, caffeine-free alternative, enjoyed throughout the day.

3. South African Brewed & Fermented Alcoholic Beverages

South Africa’s winemaking tradition is rich and diverse, with regions like Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and Paarl producing world-class wines. The country is renowned for Pinotage, its signature grape, and excels in both red and white varietals, offering a wide range of flavors and styles that reflect its unique terroir.

3.1. South African Wine

25) Red Wine from South Africa

  • South Africa’s signature grape

Pinotage is uniquely South African, a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault. Known for its robust, fruity flavors, it’s a versatile wine that pairs well with various dishes, embodying the essence of South Africa’s wine culture.

Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Full-bodied red wine

South African Cabernet Sauvignon is celebrated for its deep flavors and complex aromas, often featuring hints of dark fruits and spices. It thrives in the country’s warmer climates, producing wines that compete on an international level.

  • Spicy and bold red wine

Shiraz in South Africa is known for its bold, spicy profile, with a balance of fruit and pepper notes. It’s a favorite among red wine enthusiasts for its depth and versatility, reflecting the richness of South African soil.

  • Soft and velvety red wine

South African Merlot is cherished for its soft, velvety texture and ripe fruit flavors. It’s a smooth, accessible wine that complements a wide range of foods, showcasing the country’s ability to produce balanced, enjoyable wines.

Ruby Cabernet
  • Cross between Cabernet and Carignan

Ruby Cabernet, a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Carignan, is known for its vibrant color and fruity flavors. It’s a resilient grape that produces excellent wine in South Africa’s varied climates.

Pinot Noir
  • Elegant and complex red wine

South African Pinot Noir is celebrated for its elegance and complexity, with subtle earthy and fruity notes. It thrives in cooler South African regions, producing wines that are both delicate and nuanced.

26) White Wine from South Africa

Chenin Blanc
  • Versatile and popular white wine

Chenin Blanc is South Africa’s most widely planted grape, known for its versatility and range from dry to sweet wines. It offers flavors of apple and quince, with a refreshing acidity, making it a staple in South African wine offerings.

Sauvignon Blanc
  • Crisp and aromatic white wine

Sauvignon Blanc in South Africa is crisp and aromatic, with a notable acidity and flavors ranging from tropical fruit to green pepper. It’s a refreshing wine that captures the cool climate of its regions.

  • Rich and complex white wine

South African Chardonnay ranges from unoaked, with crisp, citrus flavors, to oaked varieties that offer richer, creamier notes. It’s a testament to the adaptability of South African winemaking, producing diverse styles to suit any palate.

  • Aromatic and floral white wine

Riesling in South Africa is known for its aromatic, floral qualities, with a balance of sweetness and acidity. It’s a lighter wine that reflects the country’s capacity for producing aromatic varietals with character and depth.

27) Sparkling Wine from South Africa

Methode Cap Classique
  • South African traditional method sparkling wine

Methode Cap Classique (MCC) is South Africa’s answer to Champagne, made using the traditional method. It’s known for its fine bubbles and complex flavors, ranging from crisp and fruity to rich and creamy, showcasing the pinnacle of South African sparkling wine craftsmanship.

3.2. South African Beer

South Africa has a thriving beer scene, characterized by a variety of lagers and stouts that cater to diverse tastes. From iconic brands enjoyed nationwide to craft lagers that reflect local flavors, South African beers are a staple in social gatherings and a reflection of the country’s brewing heritage.

28) Lager from South Africa

Castle Lager
  • South Africa’s iconic beer

Castle Lager is synonymous with South African beer, offering a crisp, refreshing taste that’s been a favorite for over a century. Its balanced malt and hop flavors make it a go-to choice for any occasion.

Hansa Pilsener
  • Crisp Pilsener-style lager

Hansa Pilsener is known for its light, crisp taste with a hint of hops. It’s a popular choice for its refreshing quality, especially on hot South African days.

Black Label
  • Robust and flavorful lager

Black Label is a strong lager with a bold taste, often referred to as “Zamalek” by its fans. It’s celebrated for its full-bodied flavor and is a staple in South African beer culture.

Windhoek Lager
  • Pure, German-style lager

Windhoek Lager, brewed in the tradition of German purity laws, is known for its clean, crisp taste. It’s a premium lager that appeals to those who appreciate a beer with heritage and character.

Carling Blue Label
  • Smooth and mild lager

Carling Blue Label is a smooth, mild lager that’s easy to drink. It’s favored for its light taste and smooth finish, making it a versatile beer for various occasions.

Amstel Lager
  • Classic, well-balanced lager

Amstel Lager is enjoyed for its classic, well-balanced flavor. It combines a subtle bitterness with a slightly sweet undertone, appealing to a wide range of beer drinkers.

Castle Lite
  • Light lager with a crisp taste

Castle Lite offers a lighter alternative to traditional lagers, with a crisp, refreshing taste. It’s the perfect choice for those seeking a lower-calorie beer without compromising on flavor.

Jack Black Lager
  • Craft lager with a rich taste

Jack Black Lager is part of South Africa’s growing craft beer scene, known for its rich, satisfying taste. It blends traditional brewing methods with unique local flavors, creating a memorable beer experience.

Mitchell’s Forester’s Lager
  • Craft lager with a hoppy note

Mitchell’s Forester’s Lager is a craft beer that stands out for its hoppy aroma and balanced taste. Brewed in the heart of the Garden Route, it reflects the natural beauty of its surroundings in its quality and flavor.

29) Stout from South Africa

Castle Milk Stout
  • Creamy and smooth stout

Castle Milk Stout is a beloved South African stout, known for its rich, creamy texture and chocolatey undertones. It’s a full-bodied beer that pairs well with hearty meals, making it a favorite during the cooler months.

3.3. Other South African Brewed and Fermented Alcoholic Drinks

South Africa’s brewing and fermenting traditions extend beyond the mainstream, offering unique beverages that reflect the country’s rich cultural heritage and diverse flora. From traditional beers to innovative ciders, these drinks tell a story of South African innovation and tradition.

30) Umqombothi

  • Traditional African beer

Umqombothi is a traditional South African beer made from maize, maize malt, sorghum malt, yeast, and water. It has a low alcohol content and a sour taste, integral to various cultural ceremonies and communal gatherings. This beer is a living testament to South African brewing traditions, deeply rooted in the country’s social fabric.

31) Marula Beer

  • Fruit-based traditional beer

Marula Beer is brewed from the fruit of the marula tree, revered in many South African cultures. This seasonal brew is part of traditional festivals, celebrated for its slightly tangy taste and cultural significance. The process of making Marula Beer is a communal activity, bringing together communities in a shared tradition.

32) Honey Mead

  • Traditional honey wine

Honey Mead, one of the oldest known alcoholic beverages, has a special place in South African home brewing. Made by fermenting honey with water, sometimes with the addition of fruits, spices, grains, or hops, it offers a wide range of flavors from sweet to dry. South African mead often incorporates unique local ingredients, creating distinct regional variations.

33) T’ej

  • Ethiopian-style honey wine

T’ej is a honey wine with roots in Ethiopian tradition, now embraced by South African brewers seeking to explore different fermenting techniques. Characterized by its golden color and sweet, aromatic flavor, T’ej is often infused with local herbs, embodying the fusion of African brewing traditions.

34) Savannah Dry Cider

  • Crisp apple cider

Savannah Dry is a popular South African cider known for its crisp, refreshing taste. Made from fermented apples, it provides a light, bubbly alternative to beer and wine, perfect for South Africa’s warm climate. Savannah Dry has become synonymous with social gatherings, offering a taste that’s both sophisticated and accessible.

4. South African Non-Alcoholic Drinks

South Africa offers a diverse array of non-alcoholic beverages, from traditional teas and health drinks to refreshing carbonated options. These drinks not only quench thirst but also reflect the country’s rich agricultural heritage and innovative spirit.

4.1. Cold South African Non-Alcoholic Beverages

35) Rooibos Iced Tea
  • Herbal tea from South Africa

Rooibos Iced Tea, made from the indigenous Rooibos plant, is a caffeine-free alternative beloved for its rich, earthy flavor and antioxidant properties. This refreshing drink is enjoyed cold, often sweetened and flavored with lemon or mint, making it a staple in South African households and cafes.

36) Mageu
  • Fermented maize drink

Mageu is a traditional South African beverage made from fermented maize meal. It’s a thick, non-alcoholic drink, rich in probiotics and often consumed for its energy-boosting properties. Mageu holds a special place in South African culture, with variations found across different regions.

37) Kola Nut
  • Caffeinated cola soft drink

The Kola Nut soft drink is inspired by the traditional use of kola nuts in African cultures for their caffeine content. This carbonated drink offers a unique twist on classic cola, with a slightly bitter undertone and energizing effect.

38) Iron Brew
  • Iconic South African soft drink

Iron Brew is a beloved South African carbonated soft drink with a bright orange color and a unique, hard-to-describe taste that’s a mix of fruity and caramel flavors. It’s a cultural icon, enjoyed by generations for its distinctive taste and nostalgic appeal.

39) Ginger Beer
  • Spicy fermented soft drink

South African ginger beer is a non-alcoholic, fermented drink known for its strong, spicy kick and refreshing taste. Often homemade, it’s a popular choice at family gatherings and social events, enjoyed for its digestive benefits and zesty flavor.

40) Appletiser
  • Sparkling apple juice

Appletiser, a sparkling apple juice, is a premium non-alcoholic beverage made from pure apple juice and carbonated water. Its crisp, refreshing taste has made it a popular choice for celebrations and dining occasions across South Africa.

41) Grapetiser
  • Sparkling grape juice

Grapetiser offers the same sophisticated experience as Appletiser but with a rich grape flavor. Made from pure grape juice and carbonation, it’s a delightful alternative to alcoholic beverages, perfect for special occasions or as a daily refreshment.

4.2. Hot South African Alcohol-Free Beverages

South Africa’s hot beverage scene offers a comforting selection of teas and coffee-like drinks, perfect for cooler weather or a relaxing moment. These drinks not only warm the body but also carry significant cultural and health benefits.

42) Teas

Rooibos Tea
  • Indigenous herbal tea

Rooibos Tea, a South African treasure, is made from the leaves of the Aspalathus linearis plant, unique to the country’s Cederberg region. Esteemed for its antioxidant properties and lack of caffeine, rooibos offers a deep, earthy flavor and is often enjoyed with milk, lemon, or honey.

Honeybush Tea
  • Sweet-scented herbal tea

Honeybush Tea, cousin to rooibos, is celebrated for its sweet, honey-like aroma and flavor. Native to South Africa’s Eastern Cape region, it’s a caffeine-free alternative to traditional teas, packed with health benefits, including anti-inflammatory properties.

African Solstice Tea
  • Exotic blend of African teas

African Solstice Tea is a rich, aromatic blend featuring rooibos and other African teas, often complemented by flowers, fruits, and spices. This warm, soothing concoction is perfect for reflective moments or a peaceful end to the day.

Masala Chai
  • Spiced tea with African twist

Masala Chai in South Africa takes the classic Indian spiced tea and infuses it with local flavors and spices. This warming beverage, made with a base of strong black tea, milk, and a blend of aromatic spices, is a favorite for its comforting and invigorating qualities.

43) Coffee & Chocolate

African Red Espresso
  • Rooibos-based espresso alternative

African Red Espresso offers a unique twist on traditional espresso, made entirely from ground rooibos tea. This innovative drink provides a caffeine-free alternative to coffee, delivering a rich, smooth taste and a host of antioxidants, enjoyed as a hot shot or as the base for lattes and cappuccinos.

Hot Chocolate
  • Rich and comforting cocoa drink

South African Hot Chocolate is a rich, comforting beverage, perfect for warming up on cool days. Made with high-quality local cocoa and often spiced with cinnamon or vanilla, it’s a beloved treat for all ages, offering a sweet escape in every cup.

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