Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Good and The Guavaberry in St. Maarten


I like rum. The smooth, spicy flavor enhances anything it touches, from cakes to cola. Now, I'm not an expert rum connoisseur like my friend Steve at Uncommon Caribbean, but I know my way around most of the Caribbean's rums. So I was surprised that I had never tasted St. Maarten's signature guavaberry rum.  Wandering into the main Guavaberry emporium in Philipsburg, I sipped a sample and immediately fell in love with this sweetly potent folk liquor that hold the title of National Liqueur of Dutch and French St. Martin.


Guavaberries grow high in the hills of St. Maarten and are related to clove. No, the berries don't taste anything like guavas but when they are aged for the liquor, they taste spicy and woodsy. The Guavaberry company makes lots of flavored rums like passionfruit and lime but I prefer the guavaberry classic, especially in the form of a guavaberry colada.


If you haven't downed a bottle of Guavaberry rum, you haven't really traveled to St. Maarten. Sipping this smooth libation will warm you like the hot St. Maarten sun and remind you that paradise is only a sip away.

The Fragrance of the French Caribbean



Some of my favorite scents are the lush tropical fruits and flowers of the Caribbean. The smell of fresh coconut, sugar apple, hibiscus and bougainvillea always conjure up beautiful memories. My sensory memory of St. Martin will remain vivid, thanks to the olfactory wonders of Tijon Perfumerie.


The idea of a personalized perfume is really appealing to me because I'm sensitive to loud, synthetic smells.  I'm really particular about fragrance and I like natural scents. Stepping into Tijon is like entering a  French Caribbean perfume paradise. Hundreds of extracts and essences line the lab and there are also ready made perfumes, colognes scented candles and skin products available. But creating your own perfume with a perfume class is the essential reason to visit Tijon. John, the owner and master perfumer, gave us lab coats and explained the basics of perfume making, which is not as simple as you'd think.


I sniffed dozens of extracts and oils, many smelled a lot different in their natural form than the commercial versions. We had to measure several of our favorite scents in test tubes and mix them in preservatives. We even had workbooks to record our scents and measurements so that we can order them again.


After dabbling through a lot of essences, I settled on amber, sunflower and musk. I call my perfume "St. Martin Magic," the light aroma reminds me of the small boutiques that are scattered around Grand Case. Visiting Tijon Perfumerie is an exceptional experience and one of St. Martin's ultimate excursions. Even if you're not into fragrances, creating your own hand-crafted scent will definitely change your mind.