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What is a "mamajuana"?

Where does the name come from?

How is the mamajuana made?

How many times can I reuse the ingredients?


Do you want to learn more?

What is a "mamajuana" ("Mama Juana")?

We get asked this question a lot, apparently many of our readers have been travelling to the Dominican Republic, where they are being exposed to this drink.

The "mamajuana", also known as "mama Juana," "damajuana" or "dama Juana" is a beverage native to the Dominican Republic, where it is made by combining rum, wine, honey and ingredients as varied as the people making it and as unique as the needs of the customers requesting it.

We first published information about the mamajuana in May 2002, then in December 2002 and later on the January 2003 issue of our "Got Rum?" magazine.  The questions, however, kept pouring in via email, fax, even by phone!  We finally decided to put all the answers we've provided over the past decade into a single page so that we could refer people to the website, this page is the result of this effort.

Where does the name come from?

In order to answer this question we must first introduce a definition. Demijohn: [DEHM-ee-jon] A large squat bottle with a short narrow neck and usually covered in wicker. Demijohns can hold from 1 to 10 gallons. The word is thought to be derived from the French "Dame Jeanne" (Lady Jane), a term which is also still used to describe this bottle. In the Spanish-speaking countries, Dame Jeanne was transformed into "Dama Juana" and later, in some places, into "Mama Juana" (mother Jane).  So the name "mamajuana" is a derivation of demijohn, which is the name of the container/bottle originally used to prepare and store the maceration.

How is the mamajuana made?

The first step is to gather the ingredients, most of the popular ones are listed below, but there are many, many variations which require for more or less.  A popular optional ingredient is the desiccated penis from a sea turtle ("miembro de carey" in Spanish), which is used the enhance the aphrodisiac nature of the drink.  The most common ingredients are:

  • Albahaca (Basil), 
  • Anamú (Guinea Henweed), 
  • Anis Estrellado (Star Anis), 
  • Bojuco Caro (Princess Vine), 
  • Bojuco Chino (China Root), 
  • Bojuco de Palo Indio (Chew Stick), 
  • Bojuco de Tres Costilla (Basket Wood), 
  • Canela de Tierra (Cinnamon), 
  • Clavo (Whole Clove), 
  • Guauci (Minnie Root), 
  • Hoja de Canelilla (Rose Wood Leaf), 
  • Juana La Blanca (Button Weed), 
  • Manzanilla (Chamomile), 
  • Marabeli, Nigua (Cornutia), 
  • Osua (Bay Rum Tree), 
  • Palo Brasil (Brazil Wood), 
  • Raiz de Coco (Coconut Palm Root) and 
  • Timacle (West Indian Milkberry)

The process of making the drink involves introducing the ingredients, cut into small pieces, into a large glass bottle, then curing the ingredients by soaking them with cheap wine or rum and a bit of honey for a couple of days (up to a week or two, depending on how fresh or bitter they are), then discarding the liquid and re-filling the bottle with better quality rum.  Once properly cured, the ingredients stop imparting bitterness into the liquid they are mixed with and start infusing it with more delectable aromas and flavors.

How many times can I re-use the ingredients?

Some people suggest that you should not re-use them more than 4-6 times, while others suggest the longer you re-use them, the better they get.  The answer is entirely up to you: once you feel you've extracted all the (desirable) taste out of the ingredients, it will be time to start a new batch.


Luis Ayala, 
Author and Rum Consultant
Rum Runner Press, Inc.


The Rum Experience by Luis Ayala.  Rum Runner Press, Inc. ISBN 0-9705938-1-3

The Encyclopedia of Rum Drinks by Luis and Margaret Ayala, Rum Runner Press, Inc. ISBN 0-9705938-2-1

American Rum by Luis and Margaret Ayala, Rum Runner Press, Inc. ISBN 0-9705938-7-2

Got Rum? We Do! Monthly Magazine, Rum Runner Press, Inc. May 2002, December 2002, January 2003.

Do you want to learn more?

In addition to the information in our Rum Books, we also post articles to our Blog.  You can also send us your questions and we'll publish the answers on-line.

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