Guavaberry Liquor is a Christmas staple in households across the Virgin Islands. The Liquor is homemade with each family keeping their cherished family recipes close to their hearts. During the holiday season, it is common that there are Guaveberry Competitions to crown the best-tasting brew in the Territory. With each family holding on to their secret ingredient, the known basic ingredients include rum, spices like nutmeg and cinnamon, sugar and of course, guavaberries.
Traditionally, it is known that the best liquor is one that has been stored in a dark place and aged for years, marrying all the ingredients to create the perfectly smooth, lips-smacking liquor. The liquor gets better with age. It keeps visitors and serenaders (carolers) to any home asking “weh deh guavaberry” and for just “one more glass.” A large glass demijohn (some wrapped in basket weaves) stores all the ingredients where they are left to soak in the sweet, bitter, woodsy notes of the guavaberry fruit. It comes in a range of colours such as yellow, orange, red and dark wine (black to Virgin Islanders).
In preparation for the Christmas Season, the demijohn is pulled from its storage space and families come together to reminisce on the year’s activities with music, laughter, sharing cultural experiences, storytelling, history, food and guavaberry tasting as the secret ingredients perfect the liquor for the holiday table.
Every Virgin Islands’ home garden is blessed to have ongoing blooms of beautiful red hibiscus flowers. The hibiscus wine is not as common today, as it was for generations, but it is an added wine option to your holiday table. Unlike guavaberry liquor, hibiscus wine does not require prior storage, although prior storage is known to create a much richer flavoured wine. Like guavaberry, each family has a secret ingredient that is added to hibiscus flowers, rum, spices, and yeast. The wine is light and perfect for sipping during the chilly Christmas season.
What is Miss Blyden and where did the name come from? Miss Blyden is made from the prickly pear tree, a tree that originated in Mexico. Miss Blyden, however, is native to the Virgin Islands. We are still awaiting research information on when the wine was first made and how the name came about. Stay tuned. The wine is made from the fig (flower/bud) of the prickly pear tree, rum, spices, and sugar. The juice from the fruit, rum and other ingredients ferments to a beautiful, rich, and fizzy drink that tickles the roof of your mouth with each sip.
Being the holiday drink that is not coloured in the holiday spirit, Maubi is a local favourite on the holiday table and is not so ugly after all. It is a bittersweet, refreshing drink that is known to be at its best consumption time when the froth flows over the mouth of the bottle housing the brew. Traditionally, long-neck bottles are used to allow space for the “Maubi to wuk” and ferment as it ages. Maubi is known in many Caribbean islands, with each island having recipes that are traditional to their culture.
In the Virgin Islands, Maubi bark, cinnamon, cloves, sweet marjoram, rosemary, dried orange peel and other spices are brought to a boil in a deep dutch pan. Once cooled, yeast is added to the mixture and tossed together. Maubi is quite special as it requires a starter, which we call leaven to make the batch. And with each batch made; a starter is saved to make the next batch.
In addition to being refreshing, Maubi is also known for its many health benefits such as lower cholesterol, good for arthritis, treating diarrhoea and may also help fight diabetes. Feeling lightheaded can be attributed to too much Maubi, therefore it is often called a “grown-up” drink.
We are certain that Maubi will grace most holiday tables in the Territory.
A Virgin Islands holiday table is filled with rich culture, history, family traditions and love. Tables are spread to receive friends and family with traditional dishes such as tarts, sweet bread, sweet potato pudding, ham, local stewed goat meat, local stewed beef, dove pork, more treats and holiday drinks. If you are lucky, you will find all four drink options at a holiday day table you visit. You can join in the Virgin Islands tradition of making a batch of each and blessing the homes you visit with a bottle. Connect with a senior, one of our Cultural Icons to get a full recipe, as we are not yet ready to share ours.