Who out there has tried sodabi, a traditional West African liquor distilled from fermented palm tree sap? If you’re anything like me, this exotic spirit is unfamiliar…but intriguing! Unless you are from West Africa or have spent any significant time there, the likelihood of you having tried this local specialty of Benin, the birthplace of voodoo, is pretty low.

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TAMBOUR ORIGINAL, a spiced sodabi created in 2012 by an American in Benin passionate about the culture and region, is trying to change all that. After having launched in sodabi’s native region, the heart of Benin, and establishing a following there, as well as winning a silver medal in the 2015 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, Jake Muhleman and his partners are working to bring this spirit stateside through an equity crowdfunding campaign.

Tambour Original is fairly unusual, even in the local segment, and is considered a modern interpretation. It is distilled twice in a stainless steel still and is then infused with a blend of 14 local plants and spices, making for a slightly aromatic spirit with just a touch of sweetness reminiscent of an earthier cachaca or spiced rum.

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But since palm liquor is created by distilling palm wine, I was inspired to use it like a brandy.

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The sidecar is one of my favorite cocktails and since it only has three ingredients, I thought this recipe would be perfect to let this spirit really shine.

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Sodabi Sidecar
1.5 oz Tambour Original Sodabi
1 oz Cointreau
1/2 oz lemon juice

Add the ingredients to an ice-filled shaker. Shake 8 to 10 seconds, until the outside of the shaker is well chilled. Strain into a coupe or cocktail glass.
Garnish with a lemon twist. Sugared rim optional.


VooDoo Spirits, the company behind Tambour Original Sodabi, is at the tail end of their crowdfunding campaign to bring their bottles to the US. If you are interested in participating in this project and to help them reach their goal, check their site out here!

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