It hadn’t moved very far… you can still find the Dawa Bar tucked under the same roofing that provides shade for guests waiting to dine at Tusker House, though now — facing Tusker House — you’ll see the Dawa Bar on your right instead of your left.
Aside from the small location switch to accommodate Animal Kingdom construction and a fresh coat of paint, not much has changed at the Dawa Bar (with the exception of the Bloody Mary menu added last fall). And I’m inclined to say that’s a pretty good thing. Today we’re trying some of those classic drinks that bring guests back to the Dawa Bar time and time again (and grabbing one of those Bloody Marys while we’re at it).
I’d mentioned the high rate of return for Dawa Bar guests, but I think over the past year some new folks have made the discovery, too. Maybe I’m just imagining it, but it does seem to me that the new location has brought more guests to this fabulous little oasis.
It’s just a lot easier to see the bar while strolling in Harambe Village from its current location, whereas previously it was tucked toward the back and somewhat hard to spot unless you knew it was there. For that reason, it seems to have lost just a bit of its “hidden gem” status, but it’s managed to keep that “this is my Disney vacation home away from home” feel — in no small part thanks to the great bartenders and relaxing vibe.
The cooling shade is another draw here, and the stools and neat chairs invite you sit and stay a while.
Even though it’s probably the least comfortable, you’ve gotta love the conga chair. Even if you don’t sit in it, you can still appreciate the artistry of the carvings on the bottom.
But no matter where you sit, it’s much more about what you sip!
The “eats” here are actually nothing but beverages. And though today we’ll be focusing on the specialty drinks, you’ll always find a terrific selection of African wines and beers here, proudly featuring Tusker Lager.
You can have any of the drinks you’re about to see served to you in a Mask Tumbler if you’re looking for a souvenir from your time at the Dawa Bar. These hit the scene around the same time the Musical Tumbler arrived at various spots around Animal Kingdom. It’ll up your beverage cost by about $6 per drink.
One of the cocktails that has been a hit for a long time here is the Sugar Cane Mojito. Now, one reason I personally haven’t sampled the Sugar Cane Mojito previously is because I’m really not into mojitos in general. But this drink’s reputation precedes itself, and from the moment it was placed in front of me I started to understand why.
It’s a gorgeous drink — strikingly clear. I was mesmerized by the sunlight shining through the drink. (And, no, I hadn’t started drinking, yet. ;-D)
Even though the general components are the same as a typical mojito (plenty of mint, and in this case the rum is African Starr mixed with Sugar Cane Syrup — complete with a stalk of sugar cane), I really did enjoy this one.
As mentioned above, the Dawa Bar added Bloody Marys to the mix last fall, and the different twists are
My friend chose the African Bloody Mary: vodka, Loaded Bloody Mary Mix, and spicy African berbere sauce garnished with berbere-rubbed beef jerky, a celery stalk, carrot, and parsley.
I stepped out of my norm with the mojito for you, but I’m just not willing to do the same with a Bloody Mary ;). I can tell you, though, that it got high marks from its consumer, with plenty of heat from the berbere spice. If anything’s going to wake you up while you’re waiting for the Animal Kingdom Starbucks to open, this oughta do it!
Note that the bartenders may not have the ingredients to make the Bloody Marys after 11AM.
The African Margarita deviates from a traditional margarita thanks to the addition of Van der Hum —a tangerine liqueur from South Africa. (Mine pictured below is saltless per my regular request).
That hint of tangerine citrus brightens up an already lime-heavy drink. Overall, it’s just different enough from a typical margarita to give it a try if you’ve never visited the Dawa Bar before and are looking for something familiar with just a hint of something new.
There are two rum cocktails on the menu made with the house beverage mix: Pangani Punch. You can pick up a Harambe Cooler or a Lost on Safari. Never one to resist a good name, I went with the Lost on Safari, which mixes Captain Morgan Spiced Rum and Pink Pigeon Mauritian Rum with the punch.
While it was fine — and I always enjoy the fruity Pangani Punch — I found it to be a bit watery. Strength isn’t something I’ve ever had reason to complain about with any Dawa drink before, so here’s hoping it was just an off-day for the mix.
All in all, though, it was another great visit! I’ve long loved this gem of a bar from my very first visit years ago, and it continues to be a special place to me. Here’s hoping you have a chance to relax, drink, and sit for a spell at the Dawa Bar. And if I see you there, we’ll go heads-or-tails for the conga chair!
Do you have a favorite drink at the Dawa Bar? Please let us know with a comment!