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GOT RUM? It Is The Answer To Many Holiday Drink Questions This Season

domino club

The Three Kings Day holiday (feist of the Epiphany for the more religious amongst us) traditionally marks the end of the Christmas season in the Virgin Islands.

And especially in St. Croix, just as with Three Kings Day, there is a Spanish flare to what people drink at the holidays. For the most part if your friends are of Puerto Rican descent, you are more than likely drinking coquito this time of year. If your friends are Dominican, you are taking a shot of mamajuana.

Anyone who knows mamajuana knows that the best stuff is made locally in recycled bottles. Although its origins are from the Dominican Republic, you can buy mamajuana in the Rain Forest on St. Croix at the Montpellier Domino Club (famous for its beer drinking pigs) 340-713-9052.

Some complain that the stuff tastes too much like cough syrup, but the rum-based concoction is a delicious island favorite. Locals mix up their own versions, soaking tree bark and other Dominican herbs in rum for weeks, then adding red wine and honey. Some soak the liquid for longer than others, and everyone has their own mix of up to 16 different herbs and spices. Thus, every batch tastes slightly different.

Coquito is an egg-nog-like alcoholic beverage traditionally served in Puerto Rico. It is made with rum, coconut milk, sweet condensed milk, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves – many of the same ingredients in the mamajuana – sans the milk. The drink is commonly associated with the holidays, where it is traditionally served with local food. Some of the best coquito on St. Croix is sold at Luncheria Mexican Food on Company Street in Christiansted 340-773-4247. Tell Lenny I sent you.

Another holiday drink in the Virgin Islands, straight from the bottle and not homemade is Barbados-made Ponche Kuba which many people simply drink from a small cub. It is a lightly spiced rum cream and says holiday season to many around this time of year. A good mixed drink involving Ponche Kuba involves it and Grand Marinier and other ingredients, but for the exact recipe you’ll have to ask Luis at Luncheria and I believe he is only there on Thursday and Friday nights. Cruzan Rum also makes a delicious rum cream drink.

If you are on St. Croix and it is the holidays, most locals swear by Guavaberry liqueur. It is also quite popular in nearby Sint Maarten. The colonists from Denmark and Holland found that it could flavor rum by infusion similar to the way schnapps is made. My favorite drink at the holidays involves gin, guavaberry, tonic water and lime. If you keep reading the Virgin Islands Free Press hopefully I’ll be able to make one before the “Christmas winds,” aka the Trade Winds, leave us this season.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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