Chapman – a drink for the champs!

Surely, any drink that has a double-barelled reference to men in one word is worth a closer look. Enter Chapman.

cocktails glasses

def. Chapman – an archaic term for an itinerant peddler     

I assure you that this refreshing cocktail (contrary to the suggestions above) is neither come and go (it is here for ALL seasons) nor unstable in its nature (consistent in how to make it and its great taste). So, I rapidly discard that definition and go for it in all its grace and strength – male and all.

I’ve always known Chapman. It is a very Nigerian drink. And that I’m 90% sure off.  I’ve never had it in any other country and I remember my friends in the UK being delighted and suprised when I made it for them a few years ago. This citrusy (non)alcoholic cocktail has accompanied many a dinner date with teenagers and adults alike. When I was young, it was the in-thing. And boy did we enjoy it.

For many years, I completely forgot it existed. Those were my years in Liverpool (1997 – 2000) when I was busy exploring other delights like cider. And then, not even in any great depth. It wasn’t till I went home one summer for a couple of weeks and had it again that my head spun and determinedly, I brought back the recipe and the secret ingredient all the way from Naija (affecionate term for Nigeria).

Now while I won’t call it a Tropical drink at all, (I think) it has the look and feel of  warm climes, maybe because of all the ice and the cirtusy scents and flavours that accompany it. It is very easy to make, easy to customize and suitable for all ages and almost always comes out right.

Can you guess what’s in it?

cocktails glasses

Were you right? Note that the key to this whole drink is a very special, not so secret ingredient…, and no, not the Fanta and Sprite! It looks tropical….doesn’t it? Set your mind in motion :-)….I should give you a tip though. Its not tropical! Cousins to Coca-cola,….and the like

IMG_4953

Secret special is called Bitters – Angostura Bitters. Or shall I be exactly exact and say Angostura Aromatic Bitters. 45% alcohol but only a tiny splash or a couple of drops are needed. And the transformation, the uplifting is complete. Ready to serve. Although Bitters have a high alcohol content, they generally consist of gentian, aromatic herbs and spices, probably preserved in alcohol. Angostura gives this drink its characteristic and unique flavour! You can still make it if you cant find this specific brand or bitters at all but….

Angostura

My funniest memory of  Chapman though was a few years ago – 2003 to be exact. I remember ’cause I was very pregnant with J (#1 girl) and we were at a wedding with my sister and her family. Of course Chapman was served, in copious quantities. Well, my niece took a liking to the somewhat red colour and kept drinking from the mugs we were being served. Unbeknownst to us….something funny was going down. The more she drank, the more active she became – dancing and displaying her talents at 2 years old. And then, amazed at her energy levels, someone figured out that perhaps there was something in the drink which was causing this……and there was: Campari. That put a quick stop to her self-watering. Thankfully, there were no adverse effects.

In Nigeria, Chapman is almost always served in a beer mug. I have made it in so many ways – in a punch-bowl for a kids party; in dainty cocktail glasses for grown-ups and just as a refreshing drink at home in a beer mug. Each one calls for its own ‘container’. None affect the taste. Whatsoever.

Beer mug 

What I love about it

– its easy to make, no special knowledge or skills required, save slice and squeeze

– You can make both junior and senior versions

– You can make it in any quantity

– Varying the combinations and permutations are a snap

Recipe for your Chapman

The following quantity will fill

1 beer mug or 4 cocktail glasses or about 10 little plastic cups

You will need

Ice cubes
3-4 tablespoons of Blackcurrant/ Cassis cordial/syrup/squash (In Nigeria and in the UK, I used Ribena)
350 ml Sprite or 7 up, preferably cold
350ml Fanta, preferably cold
1/8th of a teaspoon of  Angostura Bitters
Squeeze of Lemon
Squeeze of Lime
Squeeze of Orange
 
To garnish: Cucumber slices, Citrus quarters
The garnishes

Put the about half of the Icecubes in a glass or jug or bowl, saving the rest to serve the drinks. Pour the blackcurrant cordial in.

IMG_4950 Ice in a beer mugCassis/Blackcurrant cordial Cassis/Blackcurrant cordial

Add the Sprite and Fanta.

Fanta and Sprite

Then add the bitters, being careful not to add too much. We’re aiming for a smooth balanced finish and not the taste of trees!

Almost ready

The next step are the citrus twist – add a squeeze of Lemon, Lime and Orange.

Citrus trio Squeeze of limeSqueeze of orange Squeeze of Lemon juice

That’s it. Almost ready.

Give the mix a good stir and pour into glasses or cups. Top up with the remaining Ice cubes. And garnish.

Limes et al

Enjoy.

IMG_5077

Note that there are several variations on this theme

1. You could use fruit flavoured icecubes

2. Instead of the Blackcurrant cordial, you could use Grenadine syrup or even Pomengranate syrup. The key thing is to get the ‘Chapman red’ colour

3. You could swap some or all of the Fanta and Sprite with Ginger ale or Bitter Lemon

4. You could easily transform this from non-alcoholic to alcoholic by adding a capful or two (use your discretion) of your favourite spirit. Or add some Campari.

5. You determine your garnishes  – mint, cucumbers, citrus slices. I’ve read of people loving bananas in it. Personally, I’m a cucumber babe but you just might be a Pineapple kinda guy, who knows. Go with the flow and do rock the boat i f you must. Expand your horizons and mine.

Whatever you decide, please make this and share your favourite combos with me.

Thanks and TTFN. Oh, if you want to do more with Angostura, check out their recipe links.

cocktails glasses

75 Comments

  1. Good morning. Thanks for sharing ur recipie. I’m preparing chapman for a youth program in our church today. My ingredients are: oranges, grapes, lime, lemon, coke, 7up and eve. I hope it comes out good. I’ll gist you when I get back. Did I mention that I am teaching the congregation how to make chapman too? Fun! Isn’t it. Thanks again for ur post. It lifted my spirit. Bye….. Chapman! Here I come…..

  2. Hi ,Oz. Thank you for being so generous ; God bless you.
    I read your recipe and so took on the responsibility to
    Make chapman drinks for 200 people in a wedding ; on tuesday,17th.
    Pls, pls what and what do I need ; and how do I combine them.
    I will be glad to give the glory to God , and bless you.
    Thanks.

  3. Thanks so much for sharing ds recipe.Youve bn a great help.Pls,where can i get the Angostura bitters in Nigeria?Thanks

  4. I want to say a very big thank u to u chapman instructor.I now have the full idea of the drink.I’m doing it today.God bless u!

  5. chapman is a very lovely drink ,i learnt how to make it here and i did it for my dads 70th birthday party,it was amazing.
    thanks a million

  6. Thank you for the recipe, my wife and i thought of serving chapman this Christmas and decided to search online. Of all the sites, yours is the prefered.

  7. i rili understand ur preparation and i feel u explain it vry well .pls i will like to knw how to prepare other famous nigeria cocktail

  8. wow! thanks guys for the insightful analyses………. I’ve been looking for a truly Nigerian cocktail drink with great difficulty, i have tried out many of the foreign cocktail recipes, but have always felt we must have one from “Naija”…& now, u guys have made my day! ..thanks for the detailed recipes and graphic illustrations, cant wait to try them, hmm! i can imagine, & am so proud it originated from Naija!

  9. wow…dats luvly. I av cherished chapman all my life.but becoz of the environment,i dont usually get it.its only on rare occasion among student wen i was in the UNI.well 10ks a lot,coz with dis i can make a chapman of my own.wen im less busy….will i ever be less busy.gosh,,worrrrrrrrrrkkkkkkkkkk!!!!!!!!!.well wot of if i get to know u,maybe makin chapman for me might be a pleasure……..just kidding

  10. i think i got a very good local substitute for the Angostura bitters. I tried it and it was next to perfect. Avoided the bitters B’cos of the alchocol in it.

  11. i have been looking for this recipe for so long because i love chapman and have always wanted to be able to prepare it at home.
    thanks, this was very helpful.

  12. Hi,

    I am muslim and cause of this we do not drink any alcohol no matter the amount. Is there an alternative to Angostura Bitters?

    Cheers.

    • Hi Mani, i understand that due to religious reasons, you cannot use the bitters. I would say omit them, even if they do lend a peculiar and distinctive flavour. At the moment, I can’t think of a substitute. My apologies

  13. Looks really tempting. Been looking for the recipe for my hubby. However, is there any other alternative for the “bitters”‘? I can’t seem to get it. Will try it now.

  14. I have searched for years for this recipe with no success. I always assumed it came from the U.K but no one had ever heard of it. I was in Port Harcourt Nigeria in the early to mid 60’s and drank many of them and wished for them in the U.S. No one up until now had ever heard of a Chapman.
    The adults Brittish, Americans, and the Dutch all drank them with Gin, but they were awesome with no alcohol!

  15. I hava prepared chapman at a wedding and people liked it.Though i made use of tasty time blackcurant/tasty time orange,with angustra bitters,a dash of lemon garnished with cucumber.I will try it again this season!

  16. Great reading and have to tell you my experience with Chapman and still drink it today.

    When I was young, in the early 1960’s it was the in-thing at the Port Harcourt Club: And boy did we enjoy it drinking it at the swimming pool, where we had a Decca (Changer) Record Player, played at full volume with the constant record collection:- (Yes I can still remember them after all this time) A Date with the Everly Brothers; Pot Luck – Elvis Presley; Ricky – Ricky Nelson; Me and my Shadows – Cliff Richard; Surfing – The Ventures and a few from Dean Martin and Frankie Laine.
    Also Friday night at the P.H. Club Cinema Night or the Saturday night disco and always accompanied with a parchment or paper cone, also known as cornets, of ‘organic’ peanuts obtained from a street vendor, I used to call them ‘peanut men’, the best peanuts I have ever tasted – even today. That Taste… Yummie.

    The original receipt for Chapman I got from a Lebanese Chef working at the Port Harcourt Club restaurant, he also showed me many other cooking tips, one being how easy it is to make mayonnaise. He also informed me the Chapman recipe is made from secret ingredient and is Naija best kept secret? Not any more!

    Confident Knowledge of the recipe I have tried in the past.

    Quick Chapman
    Ice
    1 shot lemon and/or lime juice
    3 shots grenadine
    Equal parts Fanta and Sprite
    2 dashes Angostura Bitters
    Garnish: with lemon slice, cucumber slice and mint sprig

    Party Chapman
    Ice
    1 tablespoon Black Currant Cordial
    2 shots Sprite
    1 shot Orange Soda
    2 dashes (Add to Taste) Angostura Bitters
    Stir all the ingredients together and add the ice. Serve with a wedge of lemon and slice of cucumber. Could be served in a cocktail glass

    If you want to avoid the (slight) alcohol contents in the Angostura Bitters consider Bitters from a product called Monin, which does not have any alcohol contents whatsoever.

    I have colleagues and associates (and myself) who dash Angostura’s (not only with Gin) but in all sorts of soft (none alcoholic) drinks. Coke, Dr. Peppers, Tizer, Vimto, Irn Bru, Sinalco, Miranda etc. And added many fruits Mango’s, Paw Paw, Apples etc.

    One bloke I know even has Angostura’s in his Lager…..Not my taste however!

    For your reference three bars/restaurants in Friesach, and two in Klagenfurt, Austria sell Chapman’s since the mid 70’s after I introduced them to it. Also I have given the receipt to a couple of local bars in Italy and in former Yugoslavia. In Kenya it is available from the bars at Jardini’s, Safari Beach Hotel, Fontana and a local roadside bar called ‘The Container’ (which it is, once abandoned and taken over by a local) on the New Malindi Road between Bamburi and Mtwapa.

  17. God bless u for being so selfless! A neighbour made this drink last month for their one year anniversry … i was so jealous of her creativeness. I’m going to pamper my family this weekend with this drink!

  18. Oh!!! This discovery just saved me some thousands of Naira, ‘cos i’ve been longing to get this recipe for Ages, But no one is really willing to share the recipe, except in exchamge for cash. I greatly appreciate this post. It was not even reaveled in the catering school i went to…..I am more than Happy now.
    Thanks God for GOOGLE SEARH.

    This one is really Step by step…..I appreciate it.

  19. I would like to put the records straight once and for, hopefully. The drink, chapman, was created for my mum. She is a teetotaller. Dad Alamutu, doyen of the Nigerian hotel hospitality industry, created it for her because she always looked different with a glass of fanta when they attende the zillions of cocktail parties because of his profession. The Chapman, being a cocktail, looked more intersting. We made it at home all the time while we were growing up – I am over 50yrs old now! Well, the recipe has evolved over the years with people adding their own twists. The blackcurrant is a 1980’s addition. It’s all good. Your pictures are brilliant and I’m sure that your recipe tastes wonderful too. The bottled ones never really got it right. Enjoy!!
    By the way, I’m areal foodie too. Great site.

  20. Thanks for the Chapman recipe which I have been searching for a while. I had been drinking Chapman at various restaurants when I was working in Nigeria. I love this drink and missed it greatly after I left Nigeria for good. I am delighted that you are so kind for making this info available.

    I will attempt to prepare Chapman for myself and my friends once I could find the ‘angostura aromatic bitters’in my city. Once again, thanks a million for your endeavours. Cheers!

  21. thank you for the recipe, but i have a question though, which other bitters can one use apart from the angusto bitters? thank you

  22. Boy, you made my day. I was cracking my brain trying to remember the name as my wife wants to make a punch drink for a friend mom’s birthday. Yep, google search did it again having tried keyword combination such as “common cocktail drink blackcurrant”. The winning search was “common cocktail nigeria drink”.

    Yes, chapman drink is a unique cocktail in Nigeria. If as a bartender you don’t carry chapman then you have not started business.

    Great post, well done!

  23. Hi,

    The description you gave is so vivid, I can’t wait to get started. I have one question though, I actually have the grenadine syrup, would I still need to use the Ribena or is this not compulsory?

    • Dupsy, you can use the grenadine syrup. Obviously, the taste will be somewhat different but it will still be nice. If you can find Ribena, then the combination would be superb!

  24. THANK’S A LOT!!! I’ve drink a lot of chapman in Kaduna when i was a children and i’ve never found the recipe before!!! From tomorrow i’ll produce a lot of liters of chapman for me and my friends!

    Sannu!

    • You’ll have to look in large supermarkets that stock a wide range of drinks. The blackcurrant cordial should be easy – Ribena or Jucee would work perfectly

  25. Wow!!!! Thanks for this. ‘Been looking for this since my NYSC days in the Southern part of Naija! Will wow my guests, no doubt, at my next dinner event.
    Thanks once again.

  26. Gold….please tell me how it goes! I normally use Ribena and yes you should be able to find Angostura at Park n Shop!!!! It is proudly Naija oh 🙂

  27. Hey, just learnt i can get the bitters and grenadine at park n shop… not far from where i live.

    thanks all, will let u know d results of my first attempt at dis drink.

    merry xmas!

  28. Fantastic! i love the description of how to make the drink. i’ve always wondered bout dis zingy drink and hoped i could learn it n make it at home for xmas – though i neva realised it was a ‘proudly 9ja’ product.

    thanks a billion for making this info available – i am just left with figuring out where to get the ‘angostura aromatic bitters’in Lagos; any clues?

  29. Thanks 4 this! Been looking for the “original” recipe 4 a while. I grew up in Nigeria and absolutely love this drink. My kids love it and they load up whenever we’re back in Nigeria.

    Glad we can now make it ourselves here!

  30. Azh: I tried to find out the origins of Chapman…but without going back to Nigeria and talking to some elders:-), this is what I could find – a thread in a discussion. Hope it helps

    Stan: Place sounds familiar…I’ve only ever been to Jos in the North

  31. Great stuff! Thanks for the recipe, I’ve had a go at making it several times, but your’s sounds like it’ll taste great, looking forward to trying it.

    Dyou by any chance know the history of this drink? I got asked by a friend visiting Nigeria for the first time. She loves it. I’ve only ever seen it in Nigeria, any ideas where it came from. I bet it has an interesting story

  32. Wow. You lived in Nigeria. Yay. I knew there’d be some other people on this planet who know and love this drink. Pls let me know how it goes

  33. Hi SH, it is refreshing. Thing is you expect it to be sweet, maybe overly so but it isn’t. The ice goes some way to dilute the richness and the Angostura rounds off the edges very nicely. Let me know if you try it.

Comments are closed.