The fruit from the Guavaberry Tree (Myrciaria floribunda) tree is used to make a special liqueur that is not only St. Maarten’s national drink but is also the island’s traditional Christmas drink.
Guavaberry liqueur is made from guavaberry fruit, rum, sugar and spices and has a woody, bittersweet flavour. In the old days, it was tradition during Christmas to stop at houses and sing “good morning, good morning, I come for me guavaberry…”, from the calypso band Ten sleepless knights after which the host or hostess of the house would serve you a drink of the liqueur. The fruit of the tree has also traditionally been used to make jam and pies. It can be eaten fresh as well; it has a tangy, acidic flavor.
The Guavaberry Tree is a perennial shrub or tree that is native to Central America, South America and the Caribbean. It grows in both dry and moist coastal forests from sea level to a height of 220 meters. Within the Dutch Caribbean, it occurs on St. Maarten. It has reddish-brown branches and can grow to a height of about 18 meters. When in bloom, it is adorned with small pink and white flowers.
The yellow-orange to dark red fruit (right: purple fruit), which is used to make guavaberry liqueur, looks like a small cherry; on the inside, a large stone is surrounded by juicy, translucent flesh. Harvesting the fruit of the guavaberry tree is not a given though; the tree needs just the right conditions or it may bear no fruit at all.
Let’s hope that the harvest this year was good and that there will be plenty of guavaberry liqueur to celebrate Christmas!