It was in East Africa that I first encountered shandy, a beer-based drink found throughout anglophonic Africa. It happened at the New Africa Hotel in dar es Salaam, one of my very favorite spots, since I’m an antique hound and fond of old things. The building was constructed in the early 1900s for a proposed visit of Kaiser Wilhelm (Tanganyika was then a German possession). The Kaiser never came.

The building, a delightful relic of colonial architecture, evokes old movies of adventure and passion in the tropics, like Rain and Trader Horn. In fact, the New Africa looks as though Somerset Maugham had made it up. It is a two-story, thick-walled building, constructed around a small open court-yard featuring one tall coconut palm growing in the middle. The corridors ring this patio. This design makes every room an outside room, with the outermost part being a small covered porch opening off each bedroom and furnished with wicker chairs and tables. The ceilings are very high - about fifteen feet - with ceiling fans and mosquito nets that hang down like random stalactites.

The colonnaded terrace of the New Africa was the happy-hour hub of the city. Every afternoon after five, some government officials and foreigners from both east and West - tourists and expatriates - would gather at tables overlooking the old Lutheran church and the palm-fringed harbor beyond to drink and exchange gossip.

On a particularly hot and sultry day (par for this Indian Ocean port) an English woman at the next table ordered a bottle of beer and a bottle of cola. Since she had children with her, I assumed the cola was for them. But when the order came, she proceeded to pour simultaneously from each bottle into her glass. What’s more, she drank the result with considerable pleasure.

I later recounted this strange occurrence to an Old African Hand friend who of course couldn’t understand my amazement. That, he informed me, was a shandy and a very sensible drink, too, for hot, humid, tropical areas. It is more thirst-quenching than straight beer and much easier on the body functions when you drink quite a few. Cola is a fairly recent addition to  shandy recipe, I was told - dating from the post-World War II invasion of Coke and Pepsi into Africa. The traditional shandy is beer plus a carbonated lemonade or citrus-based soft drink.


1 bottle beer

1 bottle lemon-lime drink, or any soft drink like ginger ale, cola, bitter lemon, bitter orange etc.


Open bottles; mix half and half, and drink.


Serves 1.


country : Tanzania

course : beverage


source : Best of Regional African Cooking / Harva Hachten