Mixology: All That Dawa

written by Jeannette Musembi 22nd August 2017

Jeannette Musembi of Bars Kenya revisits a classic Kenyan cocktail. Dawa, which means potion or medicine, has earned its place amongst the top Kenyan cocktails to try. She keeps us in the loop on where to get the best Dawa cocktails in Nairobi.

When it comes to classic cocktails, nothing beats the Dawa.  This timeless cocktail has earned the top position among Kenya’s most revered cocktails- and why not? Even after decades of being in existence, nothing can beat its unaltered recipe of goodness. And even though it is believed that the Brazilians were first to introduce this cocktail in Kenya- one thing remains true- we pride ourselves to be the original home of the Dawa.

How To Make the Perfect Dawa cocktail

However easy it seems throwing in some lime, honey and vodka to make a Dawa- a lot of technique is required to bring this simple cocktail recipe to life. And I can think of no better place to have a delicious Dawa than these places.

Carnivore Restaurant

Carnivore was one of the first establishments in Nairobi to introduce the Dawa. And ever since, they have maintained the status quo as the founders of the famous cocktail. It should then be no surprise that this is one of the best places to enjoy a delicious concoction of the drink. Also, the technique of how they make it? Fantastic!

Lobby Lounge

Dawa Cocktail: Kenyan True Medicinal Drink

I recently experienced one of the most delicious Dawa cocktails at the little-known Lobby Lounge. Located at the newly built Swiss Lenana Mount Hotel in Kilimani, Tom, the resident mixologist introduced his own version of the Dawa after one of his clients requested it off the cocktail menu. The result? It’s one of the most requested drink at the bar! His version adds a delightful twist to this classic cocktail!

Nyama Mama

If you’ve tasted any of the ingenious cocktails at the Nyama Mama restaurant, then you should know that the Dawa is an easy breeze for them. Their extensive cocktail menu features not only their signature selections but classic ones such as the Dawa. You’re in for a treat, especially when it comes to presentation.



  • 50 ml of Vodka (We used Smirnoff Red)
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 lime, quartered then cut into chunks, plus lime wheel garnish
  • Crushed ice


  1. Into a rocks glass place lime chunks, honey and sugar.
  2. Muddle just enough to release the lime juice and mix with the honey and sugar, but not so much as to mash the pith (that will release a bitter flavour).
  3. Add some crushed ice, then the vodka and stir to combine ingredients and bring up the lime from the bottom of the glass. Add more ice until the glass is full, then garnish with a lime wheel.

Serve and enjoy