One of the things my husband and I love to shop for on vacation is liqueur. Hooch. Booze. Tipple. Whatever you want to call it. You can find the strangest and most wonderful alcohol-based drinks in other parts of the world that you could never hope to find back home. Sometimes, with good reason. And often, the local drinks you find really capture the spirit (pun intended) of the place of origin. Vasie se Pitte, from Namibia, is one of those very liqueurs.
From the label, you might initially think this bottle was purchased at some little liquor store in rural Alberta. I mean look at the little dude in the picture, he’s great isn’t he? He’s mellow and feeling no pain. He’s obviously been at the bar for a while now. Probably swaying gently to the dulcet tones of Shania Twain or George Strait, complaining to his buddies about how his wife left him and took his dog and his truck. He’s just hoping she left the TV and tractor behind…
Wait, are those flies buzzing around his head? Or is he just sweating profusely?
Ahh but no, this liqueur isn’t from Canada at all sadly. This is a bottle of Vasie se Pitte Granadilla liqueur, which we actually purchased on our trip through South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe in 2009, I believe. Although it’s labelled as being from South Africa, we purchased it in Swakopmund, Namibia.
Granadilla is in the same family as passion fruit, though the label indicates “distilled from 100% pure grape spirit, blended with passion fruit.” Six of one, half a dozen of the other, I suppose. We tried granadilla pop on the same trip and it tasted close enough to passion fruit to our untrained palates. And once you add the alcohol it’s not like anyone would be able to taste the difference, so whether it’s passion fruit or granadilla, if you have a cocktail recipe requiring either, this would do in a pinch.
As you can tell from the amount still remaining, we’ve been taking this one slow. In fact, we even shared it with friends one night, and this is still how much we have left. It’s a rather unforgiving (and puckery) combination of sugar and acid, and I’m pretty sure you could do some serious damage to yourself if you drank too much of it in one go.
The last time I had a taste I was rewarded with an instant migraine, so I haven’t touched it since. It may have just been a coincidence, but unless I’m using it as a mixer I’m not going to take the chance of drinking it straight again. I’m actually surprised it hasn’t eaten through the glass bottle it came in, to be honest. This baby is potent!
As for the translation, I don’t read Afrikaans so I ran this sucker through Google Translate. Vasie se Pitte came out as “invasion kernels.” I certainly wouldn’t dispute that translation, as the granadilla seeds do look a bit alien, even alive:
Here’s a nice close-up of the granadilla seeds. It’s darkened since we first purchased it, when it was a bright, happy shade of orange. And…do the seeds look furry to you? Well, that’s just the alcohol breaking down the organic material, as we have had it sitting for a while now. It was “prettier” when we first purchased it. But as with most liqueurs, they don’t last forever, and they tend to oxidize, especially if they contain real fruit.
My husband assures me it still tastes the same. Or at least as close to the same as to still be palatable. Anytime I tell him “maybe it’s time we empty this one, we’ve had it for a while” he insists that he still takes a shot every now and again and clutches it possessively to his chest. Well, ok he doesn’t really do that. But that’s what I picture him mentally doing when I suggest that maybe this one has passed its “best before” date.
Then again, the alcohol content of Vasie se Pitte probably keeps it fairly preserved, so maybe it is still ok to keep around. It would be especially nice in a tall cocktail over ice and orange juice, with maybe a bit of grenadine to mellow out the acidity, or mixed with peach nectar like a bellini. Something summery with chunky bits of fruit.
As for the phrase on the side, Google Translate decided that “ga” ma dis lekke” means “ga mother licks it”. Ummm. I may have to ask my friend who speaks Afrikaans what the proper translation for that is. Any takers?