Nigerians are known for being heavy drinkers and most ethnic groups have special local brews –alcoholic and non-alcoholic- which whet their thirst.
While Nigeria’s drinks have been influenced by different foreign cultures, there are certain drinks that still stand out as purely indigenous to the nation. These brews which are usually unique and are a favourite among the low to the middle-class population.
From soft Zobo leaves and Millet made drinks to home-made gin and pub-favored shooters, Jovago.com, Africa’s No. 1 online hotel booking website has a list of local drinks that are a must-try when you travel around Nigeria.
Palm Wine is the most popular local drink in Nigeria as it is consumed by almost all the tribes and ethnic groups and plays a very important role in traditional celebrations. An alcoholic beverage from the sap of various species of palm tree such as raphia palms (Raphia hookeri or R. vinifera), the oil palm (Elaeis guineense), palmyra and coconut palm. It is known with many names like tombo, palmy, Uzunma (epitome of beauty), Nwoko onye obi ocha (large hearted man), mmiri Ara umu mbe (breast milk for the orphan) among the Igbo people of the South East; and “emu” and “oguro” in western Nigeria. It can be consumed in a variety of flavors ranging from sweet unfermented to sour fermented and vinegary alcoholic drinks and it is very nutritious.
A popular alcoholic drink in the middle belt region of Nigeria, Brukutu is a local brew made from fermented sorghum and other protein enriched grains. Also known as BKT, it is produced traditionally through a method that involves malting, mashing, addition of an adjunct, fermentation of sorghum using an old brew as a starter culture for 48 hour pasteurization by boiling and maturation. It serves as a source of alcohol for everyone in the region- the old and young, male and female, educated and uneducated.
Pito, another popular fermented alcoholic drink among the people in the Northern part of Nigeria has close ties to Bururkutu as both are produced mainly from the grains of guinea corn (Sorghum vulgare and Sorghum bicolor), but Pito is a sweetened variant and bye-product of Burukutu as it is usually filtered off from the top, and Burukutu is the sediment that settles at the base of the brew mix and is usually heavier in concentration. Pito is lighter and more like the refined part of the brew. It is highly intoxicating, but relatively cheap and can be consumed anytime of the day-morning, afternoon and night.
Kunnu is a traditional non-alcoholic fermented beverage popular in the northern part of Nigeria where it originates from. The beverage which is usually milky cream in appearance is a millet based food drink which is consumed within few hours of its production by people within the low and middle income bracket who usually cannot afford industrially produced beverages. The drink has two varieties: Kunu Zaki , when the main ingredient is millet and Kunu Gyada, when the main ingredient is groundnut, sometimes can be sprinkled with rice. Rich in protein and high in fiber and nourishing vitamins and minerals, it is a nation’s favorite.
A yellowish local drink produced from ripe pineapple juice and supplement derived from ogi, a product made from sorghum or maize, Adoyo is highly nutritious and serves the same advantage with liquid milk. It is very high in ascorbic acid, and is said to be very therapeutic as a cure for Malaria.
This Local Nigerian drink, Omi Wara, is one of the local drinks in the Northern part of Nigeria made from the water obtained from cheese.
A mauve colored cocktail that is not only tasty but refreshing as well, Zobo is a very popular drink consumed by people all over Nigeria. Also referred to as “Zoborodo”, it is made from the dried red calyces and sepals of the Roselle plant (Hibiscus sabdariffa), known as Zobo leaves in Nigeria. Other basic ingredients include garlic, ginger, pineapple, water and sometimes, honey, ginger, chilli flakes, orange, lemon and sugar syrup. The drink is loaded with lots of health benefits and is said to help reduce high blood pressure, aid digestion and promote the health of the urinary tract.
Nigeria’s version of Vodka, Ogogoro is a derivative from palm wine and is very popular around the country, and it is known and addressed with various names including ‘shekwe’,’ ishi enwe’, ufofob, robirobi, baba erin, etonto, wuru, Udi Ogagan,Agbakara,Aka mere, Agbagba, Iced Water, Push Me, I Push You , ‘I for don marry’, ‘Kai Kai’, ‘Sapele Water’ and Craze man in the bottle. The drink is sometimes also derived from ripe plantain through local distillery methods. With the active ingredient in Ogogoro being ethanol, the alcohol content of local ogogoro ranges between 30-60% and can be very dangerous when improperly prepared. Due to the rising number of deaths resulting from this local drink, the federal government of Nigeria has clamped down on its consumption in different parts of the country.