Alcoholic beverages have always been a part of the history and culture of St. Maarten. Saint Martin is known for having a very festive and joyous culture and a bustling nightlife. This leads to a variety of alcoholic drinks being available on the island such as locally made rums, Dutch gins, and other island favorites such as piña coladas and daiquiris. The abundance of local fruits and vegetables on the island, also adds to the flavor and richness of the beverage culture in St. Martin.
The most famous alcoholic beverage in Sint Maarten is Guavaberry rum. This is a locally made beverage made from aged rum, cane sugar, and the abundant guavaberries that grow in Saint Martin. Guavaberry rum is the national liqueur of both French Saint Martin and Dutch Sint Maarten and is served in nearly all of the restaurants and bars on the island.
Table of Contents
- What is Sint Maarten’s beverage history?
- What are the most famous drinks in Sint Maarten?
- What are the best meals to eat with drinks in St. Martin?
- What are the prices of drinks in Sint Maarten?
- What is the legal age for drinking in Sint Maarten?
- How is Sint Maarten’s drinking culture?
What is Sint Maarten’s beverage history?
The beverage with the most history on the island of Saint Martin is “Guavaberry Liqueur”. This is a legendary drink in St. Maarten that originated centuries ago as a drink that the natives of St. Martin used to make in their homes. The liqueur is made from the abundant guavaberries that grow naturally in the warm hills of Saint Martin as well as oak-aged rum and cane sugar. The liqueur has a sweet, fruity, woody, and spicy flavor profile that makes it very unique. It is a prized symbol of Saint Martin’s history and legacy, there are even old folk songs and stories commonly known in Saint Martin about guavaberry rum.
During Christmas time on the island in the 1950s, the population in Saint Martin was at an all-time low with only about 1,600 people living on the Dutch side of the island. During those times guavaberry rum was an essential part of the Christmas tradition. Natives on the island would go door to door singing Christmas carols and the householder would pour a little bit of the precious guavaberry rum for each of the carolers. This tradition is special to the natives who remember this time on the island and creates a nostalgic feeling toward guavabarry rum. Guavaberry rum is also used during the different festivals held on the island such as carnival, St. Maarten’s day, the SXM festival, and more. This makes Guavaberry rum an integral part of Saint Martin’s local culture, tradition, and heritage.
What are the most famous drinks in Sint Maarten?
There are a plethora of delicious cocktails and alcoholic beverages available in Saint Martin. The most popular drinks of Sint Maarten are listed below.
- Planter’s Punch
- Ti’ Punch
- Guavaberry Colada
- Piña Colada
- Cuba Libré
- Dark and Stormy
Moët is a type of champagne originating from Épernay, France. It was founded in 1743 by the famous wine trader Claude Moët, who was originally from the Netherlands and moved to France in the early 1700s. Moët is made with three distinct kinds of champagne grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. The making of this champagne is a complex process and includes gathering grapes from hundreds of vineyards within the villages of Champagne France.
Unlike most wines and champagnes, moët is meant to be enjoyed over ice. In St. Martin, moët is usually served along with fresh fruits and can be described as a deliciously fruity, fizzy, and fresh experience. With the French influence being so prevalent on the island of Saint Martin this is a drink that is enjoyed by tourists and locals alike and is considered a luxurious beverage used for special occasions. Moët is a popular drink in Saint Martin that is truly a blend of Dutch and French influence, which is reflective of the overall culture of Saint Martin.
2. Planter’s Punch
Planter’s punch is a popular fruity and tropical rum-based drink that was created in the mid to late 1800s during the pre-prohibition era. The exact origin of this drink is debatable, some believe planter’s punch has its origin in Charleston, South Carolina at the planter’s hotel. This hotel was a retreat for wealthy rice planters in the nineteenth century. Others believe it was invented in the Caribbean because of the use of rum and the drink’s tropical flavor.
Despite the unclear origin, planter’s punch is one of the most popular drinks not only in St. Maarten but throughout the Caribbean. Planter’s punch is made with dark rum as a base with pineapple, citrus juices, and a splash of grenadine that gives it its delicious scarlet color and delightfully fruity flavor. Planter’s punch is traditionally served with a small umbrella in the cocktail, which fits the aesthetic of the tropical and paradisaic conditions of Saint Martin.
The daiquiri was created in 1896 by an American Engineer named Jennings Cox, who lived and worked in Cuba after the Spanish-American War. It is commonly believed that Cox invented the daiquiri by substituting rum for gin after running out of gin during a cocktail party he was hosting. The drink was made with rum, limes, and brown sugar and turned out to be a favorite among the guests at the party. Cox then named the drink the “Daiquiri” after the nearby town of the same name in Cuba.
During the 1940s and 1950s, the frozen daiquiri became a classic drink to be enjoyed in a tropical climate due to the rise in tourism throughout the world at the time. The frozen daiquiri consists of white rum, lime juice, and sugar, it is then shaken and blended with ice and poured into a coupe glass. The daiquiri is also available in a variety of tropical flavors such as strawberry, pineapple, and mango. The frozen daiquiri quickly became a favorite all over the Caribbean amongst locals and tourists and until this day it remains one of the most popular drinks in St. Maarten.
4. Ti’ Punch
Ti’ Punch is a simple three-ingredient cocktail that was created in the French-speaking Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe. The “Ti” in “Ti Punch” is the creole variant of the French word “petit”. The cocktail is often described as a Caribbean take on the American cocktail the “old-fashioned”. This classic rum cocktail was originally made for sugarcane field workers in the late 18th century as a fortification during the long hot days working in the fields.
The ingredients for a Ti’ punch include Rhum Agricole, with lime juice and cane syrup. The rum used in a Ti’ punch is not your typical white rum but a rum made from the fresh juices of sugarcane instead of being made from molasses. Although this is the national drink of Martinique and Guadeloupe, it is also a favorite amongst locals and tourists in other French-speaking countries such as Saint Martin.
5. Guavaberry Colada
The guavaberry colada was created in St. Maarten in 1973, the cocktail is a unique spin on the classic “Piña Colada”. The Guavaberry Colada is a cocktail that is unique to Saint Martin because it uses St. Maarten’s national beverage “Guavaberry Liqueur” in the recipe. Guavaberry Liqueur is made on the island of St. Maarten from the guavaberries that grow abundantly in the hills of the island, these guavaberries are harvested and mixed with an oak-aged rum and cane sugar. These berries have a tart and sweet flavor to them.
The ingredients for a guavaberry colada include Guavaberry liqueur, cream of coconut, and pineapple juice. The drink is usually blended with ice and sprinkled with nutmeg, this gives the drink a nice contrast of fruity and spicy flavor. The guavaberry colada is the signature cocktail of St. Maarten, and truly captures the unique essence of the island.
6. Piña Colada
In 1954, The piña colada was created in San Juan, Puerto Rico, by a bartender named Ramón Marrero who also went by the nickname “Monchito”. Ramón Marrero invented the piña colada while working as a bartender at the Caribe Hilton hotel, where he worked for 35 years. The drink became so popular that in 1978, the piña colada became the official drink of Puerto Rico. This creamy and sweet drink quickly became a favorite throughout the Caribbean and the entire world.
The ingredients for a piña colada are rum, coconut cream, and pineapple juice, these ingredients are blended with ice and then poured into a “poco grande glass” and often garnished with a cherry and pineapple wedge. This creates a delicious dessert-like taste that is famous for being enjoyed in a sunny and tropical climate such as can be found in St. Maarten. Piña coladas are very popular among tourists in Saint Martin and the drink has become a part of the local culture on the island.
Jenever is a clear and botanically rich, malted grain-based spirit that can only be produced in Holland or Belgium. It’s made of whiskey-like triple distillate made of wheat, rye, and corn and a juniper-infused distillate. It was first made as a medicine in the late 16th century by a Dutch doctor and alchemist named Sylvius de Bouve whose research included distilling medicines with juniper berry oil.
Jenever is a combination of whiskey and gin and is infused with juniper berry. Jenever is the Dutch word for “juniper”. Jenever is a popular drink on the southern Dutch side of Sint Maarten and is a reflection of the island’s Dutch heritage. Jenever is available in the many bars and nightclubs on the island and is used in various cocktails.
The history of the mojito dates back to the early 1500s where it was used as a medicinal drink to curb disease on the island of Cuba. Although it was not called a “mojito” at the time, the creator of this cocktail is said to be Sir Francis Drake, who was an English pirate who tried to invade Cuba. After an unsuccessful invasion, Sir Francis Drake and his crew suffered from dysentery and scurvy. In search of a remedy, they found a recipe from the indigenous people of Cuba and turned into into a drink, at the time the cocktail was called “El Draque”. The drink later became known as the “mojito” a Spanish word meaning “to moisten”. The mojito became widely popular in Cuba and gained popularity quickly throughout the world in the mid-1900s.
Nowadays the ingredients for a mojito include white rum, spearmint leaves, lime juice, cane sugar, and sparkling soda. This refreshingly minty drink has been referenced many times in pop culture, such as in the James Bond films, and was very popular with the writer Ernest Hemingway. The mojito is synonymous with sophistication and relaxation, it is thus a very popular drink in St. Maarten.
9. Cuba Libré
The Cuba Libré originated in Cuba in 1902 when the country had just won independence from Spain. This was a joyous event where many soldiers and locals were dancing and shouting “free Cuba” in the streets. The cocktail was created during this time in memory of the celebration of the end of war and oppression in Cuba at the time. The name “Cuba Libré” literally means “free Cuba”. Legend says that during this time a captain in the U.S. Army who was stationed in Havana, Cuba for the Spanish American war poured Coca-Cola and a splash of lime into his rum and toasted his Cuban comrades by shouting out “Por Cuba Libre!” (“To a free Cuba!”) at a local bar. After that, the Cuba Libré’s popularity soared throughout Cuba.
The ingredients for a Cuba Libré are white rum, Coca-Cola, and a splash of lime. The cocktail is usually served over ice with a lime wedge as a garnish. This deliciously fizzy and timeless drink spread from Cuba throughout the Caribbean and is a popular drink that is ordered by tourists in St. Martin in bars and nightclubs throughout the island.
10. Dark and Stormy
This spicy and darkly colored cocktail got its name from a sailor who likened the drink’s dark and murky color to the color of storm clouds. The “dark and stormy” cocktail was created in Bermuda, an island that is known as the “shipwreck capital of the world”. There are 300 vessels that have been ruined near the island at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean due to Bermuda’s 200 square miles of dangerous coral reef, which damages the hulls of ships.
In 1806, a sailor named James Gosling managed to avoid the dangerous coral reef of Bermuda after surviving 91 days at sea. He then inhabited Bermuda and his offspring became a prominent family on the island that started a rum production business in 1857. They paired their rum with ginger beer, which was another popular beverage in Bermuda at the time and created the popular “dark and stormy”.
The “dark and stormy” is frequently ordered at restaurants and bars in St. Maarten as well as all over the Caribbean. The beverage is made with Goslings Black Seal rum, ginger beer, it’s traditionally poured over ice and garnished with a lime wedge.
What are the best meals to eat with drinks in St. Martin?
Sint Maarten is not only known for its amazing drinks and cocktails but for its incredible cuisine as well. The best foods in Sint Maarten are listed below.
- Conch and Dumplings
- Johnny Cakes
- Crabmeat-Stuffed Shells or Crab Back
- Codfish Fritters
- St. Maarten Spareribs
What are the prices of drinks in Sint Maarten?
The prices of alcoholic drinks in Saint Martin vary depending on the type of drink you are buying. In comparison with other regions such as the United States, and countries in the EU the prices for alcoholic beverages are relatively inexpensive due to St. Maarten’s duty-free status. Many of the local supermarkets have special sales on various brands of alcohol throughout Saint Martin. It is also considerably cheaper to buy alcohol on the southern Dutch side of St. Maarten. This is due to the fact that the exchange rate of the Netherlands Antillean Guilder is closer to the US Dollar than to the Euro, which is the currency used in northern French Saint Martin. Some alcoholic drinks and their average prices in St. Martin are listed below.
- Wine: A glass of wine in Saint Martin usually costs around $9-$12 (7-10 Euros) while a mid-range bottle of wine usually costs $16-$20 (13-17 Euros).
- Beer: Beer typically costs around $3-$5 (2.5-4 Euros) in Saint Martin.
- Liquors: Bottles of liquor can cost $10-$15 (8-12 Euros) in Saint Martin.
- Cocktails: Cocktails normally range from $8-$16 (7-14 Euros) in Saint Martin.
What is the legal age for drinking in Sint Maarten?
The legal drinking age in Sint Maarten is 18 years of age. The reason for this is because 18 years of age is the same legal drinking age in France and the Netherlands, which are the countries that govern Saint Martin and Sint Maarten.
How is Sint Maarten’s drinking culture?
Saint Martin has taken a lot of influence from its mother countries, France and the Netherlands. This influence can be seen in the drinking culture of both French Saint Martin and Dutch Sint Maarten. On both sides of the island, both tourists and locals alike enjoy alcoholic beverages during special events such as festivals and holidays. It is also common to consume alcoholic beverages during meals with family and friends in St. Maarten.
On the northern side of Saint Martin, which is owned by France, the most popular alcoholic beverage is wine. Wine is featured during the Saint Martin food and wine festival, which is held annually on the island. In Saint Martin, wine is usually paired with local cuisine and used to highlight the flavors of different dishes. This is very prevalent in French culture and has influenced the local culture of Saint Martin.
On the southern side of Sint Maarten, which is owned by the Netherlands, the most popular alcoholic beverage is beer. This is reflected in Sint Maarten by the wide availability of beer and local breweries in the southern part of the island such as SXM brewery and the Pelikaan Brewery. Beer usually accompanies the meal and is also used during the festivals that are held annually in Sint Maarten.
On both sides of the island of St. Maarten, guavaberry rum is a popular beverage. It is made locally on the island and is a favorite among the natives of St. Maarten. Guavaberry rum is available in most bars and restaurants on the island and is traditionally consumed during festivities and holidays in Saint Martin.