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.
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.
Guavaberry liqueur is made from guavaberry fruit, rum, sugar and spices and has a woody, bittersweet flavor. 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.