Ponche de Creme is very nice. Sorrel and Shrub are great too. But for us Crucians, it’s hard to top Guavaberry as the libation of choice during the Holiday Season. This spicy liqueur is better-known for its ties to St. Maarten/St. Martin, where as it says on Guavaberry.com, the stuff was first made centuries ago. Bottles of the Original Wild Guavaberry Island Folk Liqueur pictured above are among the most popular souvenirs for visitors to the dual Dutch-French paradise. In St. Croix and the rest of the Virgin Islands, though, the drink carries a lot of importance at this time of year as well.
Like Sorrel flowers and the oranges and tangerines that go into making Shrub, the small red and yellow Guavaberry fruits ripen in the fall just ahead of winter. Naturally, the liqueur produced from them has become a Holiday Season staple.
So, what’s it taste like? Well, it’s not for everybody. First-time travelers to St. Croix who visited me years ago related the flavor to that of Vick’s NyQuil. I wouldn’t say that, but it is pretty fierce. Very strong and spicy-sweet a little like Jägermeister, but not as harsh. From the label: “The aged liqueur has a woody, fruity spicy, bitter-sweet flavour all its own.”
For me, nothing beats a homemade batch, but the bottled version isn’t too bad either. Sadly, it’s not sold in the U.S. (another great reason to head to St. Maarten/St. Martin). If you want to make your own, click here for an easy recipe.
If you’re lucky enough to have some on-hand tonight, here’s a great recipe for Island Queen, an easy and refreshing drink that combines Guavaberry’s unique flavor with the New Year’s Eve traditional favorite – champagne.
Combine 1/2 oz chilled Guavaberry with champagne in a freezing champagne flute. Garnish with fruit as desired and enjoy!
Happy New Year!