In seeking out West Indian food, I’ve come to realize there is a huge culture of soft drinks that use distinctive ingredients and taste little like anything we as Americans have had. Sorrel is an amazing, sweet and tart drink made from steeping hibiscus flowers; I’ve made a tasty jelly from it and will be posting about that soon. Seamoss is a sweet and creamy drink made from a type of seaweed.
Mauby, in turn, is both a drink as well as the bark used to make it. I made the mistake of taking a bite of the bark – which was not cool. It’s pretty bitter, and I ate like 5 different things to try to get rid of the taste. The bark is actually from the buckthorn tree, and it’s steeped with sugar and spices to make the drink. The flavor is not unlike root beer but with more licorice undertones. There’s also that bitter aftertaste I mentioned (though obviously not as bad as if you stupidly eat the bark), and it’s what I would call an “acquired” taste. Talking to people, I’ve noticed younger generations can’t stand it, but the older generations who grew up drinking it just love it…my little observation.
Mauby is had everywhere from Puerto Rico to Dominican Republic to Jamaica, and everyone has their own spice mix. Typically, some combination of aniseed, clove, vanilla, and/or cinnamon is used to flavor the drink along with a ton of sugar. I’ve also seen cola flavoring and even angostura bitters added to mellow out the bitter aftertaste.
I think it’s an incredibly unique flavor, but I would have to say I’m still acquiring…