Mauby is one of my favorite Trini drinks. It is especially popular during this, the Carnival season. I grew up drinking it at my Aunt’s house where it seemed she always had a full pitcher waiting for the arrival of me and her 101+ godchildren. Cool and refreshing, sweet and yet bitter, it’s definitely an acquired taste. When I lived in the US the closest I could find to it was root beer (of which I naturally became a devotee).
Mauby is made from the bark of the mauby tree. This bark can be bought at local markets, and sometimes the supermarket carries it as well. However for the lazier ones amongst us, mauby concentrate (shown below) is also available in large glass bottles.
I have bought the concentrate a few times and I think it is a ‘slightly below acceptable substitute’ for the real thing, being overpoweringly sweet in my eyes and lacking sufficient ‘bite’. I used it happily in the US though where scoring a bottle was like hitting the jackpot, so I imagine it will do if you are stranded in Wisconsin or Siberia
Here in Trinidad we also have a carbonated version of mauby called Mauby Fizz (of which there is also a diet version). Now -that- I love as it strikes the perfect balance between bitter and sweet!
From the Trinidad Guardian:
The mauby bark comes from a tree belonging to the Rhamnaceae family, which is abundant in many Caribbean islands.
It is found growing in thickets and woodlands, in dry coastal and limestone regions of southwest Puerto Rico, Culebra, St Croix, St Thomas, St John, Tortola and Angola. It flowers in July and fruits from September to March.
The tree can also be grown in southern Florida, including the Florida Keys, Bahamas, Greater Antilles and Lesser Antilles, the south of St Vincent, southern Mexico and Guatemala.
This bitter bark is known by more than one name, depending on the island where it is grown or consumed.
The Dominican Republic calls it mabi; Cuba, jaya jabico; United States, soldier wood and naked wood; Bahamas, smooth snake bark; Haiti, bois mabi and bois de fer; Guadeloupe, bois mabi and mambee; Antigua, mabi; and of course, T&T, mauby.
The sapwood is light brown and the heartwood is dark brown. The wood is hard and heavy, strong and durable. It is commonly used for posts in Puerto Rico.
The tree is evergreen, usually ten-15 feet high and less than four feet in trunk diameter, with a spreading crown of thin foliage.
The orange-brown bark is smooth on small trunks, but becomes fissured, splitting off the scales. The inner bark is light brown and bitter.
Still can’t get enough mauby? Check out this article from Slakethirst titled Mmmm?¢‚Ç¨¬¶ Mauby!, however do note that the recipe shared in that article bears no resemblance to the maubies that I know.