I enjoy writing about what we do in the Caribbean, so here I would like to talk about some of our Christmas drinks.
Of course there are the drinks made with the ubiquitous rum of the Caribbean. Rum is basically of two kinds, one made from molasses, such as the ones that come from the English-speaking islands such as Trinidad, Jamaica, etc. and those that come from the French-speaking islands such as Guadeloupe and Martinique and called agricultural rum, made directly from the cane juice. Rum made from molasses is easier to drink as is than the agricultural rum, which is the one usually used for making what the French-speaking islands call a ‘ti-punch’ or a ‘little punch’. However, there are also special reserves of agricultural rum which are drunk like fine cognac, having been aged.
So, when the hurricane season is over, anytime after the month of October, we start looking for the fruit that is going to be put to macerate in the rum until the holiday season.
These fruits are legion, and some of them ripen during the summer season and have to be stewed. After that they simply await their time to be put on rum. Some stewed fruit also go into the Christmas fruit cakes.
Two very special Christmas drinks are mauby and sorrel. Mauby is made from the bark of a tree which grows wild, while sorrel is made from the petals of a hibiscus cousin. Mauby is a drink which ferments naturally and therefore does not need any additional spiking, but sorrel is usually either left as is or spiked with rum. Both drinks are like all edibles: whoever makes them has their own touch. Mauby is made by adding some that has already fermented to the new batch. I have gotten some for the creation of new mauby and by the second batch it no longer had the taste of the first person’s drink, but it tastes like mine.
Sorrel is much easier to work with. The flowers are stripped of their unopened petals, boiling water is poured onto them and you get the most glorious red colored drink. Then it is sweetened and either drunk as is or with rum.
There is a very special drink from this island called Miss Blyden, which is made from the fruit of the prickly pear, a cactus which has become very rare, but may still be found in some out-of-the-way corners on the East coast of the island especially. One other glorious colored drink is made from bay grapes and also has to be spiked. Then there is the guavaberry. This one is almost indigenous to Saint Martin, since it likes very particular spots, not too high and not too low. They come in red and yellow and make the rum exceptionally potent. I have always thought they crank up the proof of the rum.
Enjoy the Holidays when they come around again!