Anguillan Herbal Cocktail: 'Mama Wanna' Lights Up the Night?

As I transition from Washington D.C. back to Philadelphia and prepare for my trip to Utah, I will take you back to when I was in Anguilla a few weeks ago, when I had the opportunity to see (but unfortunately not drink at) the beach bars of Sandy Ground. I passed through that part of town during the late morning – none of them were even open – and I was leaving the island and returning to St. Maarten long before sunset.

Hate when that happens, but it was probably for the better. I had dinner plans later that night, and the local drink the Anguillans are said to serve up may have forced me to spend the night – a herb-infused liquor they call ‘Mama Wanna” (similar to Mama Juana in the Dominican Republic).

I asked about it during my tour, however my question was brushed off to the side. They told me it was very strong and that it would be a great way to start a night at any bar, but they were vague on its contents. This dodge, not to mention the insinuating name, stirred my curiousity even more.

When I returned to the United States I wrote the tourism board to request the recipe, and they got in touch with a local establishment to tackle the topic. Elvis’ Beach Bar in Sandy Ground shot me this note:

Elvis receives a bottle of herbs from Santo Domingo (special ingredient, no name was given) and adds white or dark rum to the herbs.  He also ads cinnamon bay leaf and honey and allows the mixture to preserve for about three months.  There is no real measurement of the ingredients, everything is poured together free handily.

You guys are killing me.

I am so disappointed that I didn’t get to try it that day – maybe then I could have convinced the bartender to reveal more about the drink than that no-name special they served me up via e-mail (not that I blame them).

The vague description once again enhances my desire to drink it, but I’m pretty certain I’ll get back there next February (all is not lost). A day trip was obviously not enough time on the island. Anguilla truly does have some incredible beaches and it seems they each deserve a day in themselves. Check out these photos from my visit (recently enhanced):

Sandy Ground.
Meads Bay.
Meads Bay.
Cap Juluca.


  1. Will…I KNEW Anguilla would sink in sooner or later – it is an island that takes some time to marinate your soul. Now, for the Mamma Wanna….I have never heard of it or have had it in all the years I have been going to AXA…now I am curious too! Many, many years ago, though, there were only 2 places to go get your boogie on on a weekend night – The Red Dragon Disco (where Ace Hardware is now) and Johnno’s (Sandy Ground). Otherwise, you may have to venture out and find a “Pop-Up” (an impromptu party that could be just about anywhere)….This was back when the island had no television and only one traffic light. So, things have changed and now the opportunities to rhumba have grown….It will always be a place I want to return to year after year.

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