Making Mauby

The mercury was headed straight up last week — peaking at an unseasonably hot 94° F — making it an ideal time to try concocting a homemade batch of mauby. It seems as if every island has its own recipes… I borrowed from several and averaged, to make a sort of pan-Caribbean version. Definitely the wrong way to start out a proper experiment, but some of the ingredients sound too tasty not to use. First, I simmered the following for about 10 minutes:

mauby, cinnamon, bay, rosemary, marjoram, anise, cloves, nutmeg4-5 pieces mauby bark
2 sticks cinnamon (short)
2 bay leaves
2 Tbsp. fresh rosemary
2 tsp. dried marjoram
2 pods star anise
3 cloves
1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg
3 cups water

at the end of which, it had reduced quite a bit. I strained it — saving back the mauby bark — into a 3 gallon carboy, dropping the bark in as well. The mauby bark, incidentally, was $2.50/oz. from a local Caribbean grocery. It’s Bedessee brand. Next, I heated

2 cups brown cane sugar
2 cups white cane sugar
10 cups water

until the sugar dissolved, and allowed it to cool. This was added to the carboy, and shaken well. Finally, I pitched half an expired packet of Lalvin D47 yeast I found in the back of a drawer, figuring it couldn’t hurt, and just might help. Didn’t bother to proof it. To keep the nasties out, and just in case the yeast did decide to kick off an active fermentation, I affixed a waterlock, set it in a warm spot and waited.

a pitcher of maubyIt never really developed much of a head… oh, there was a layer of foam on top, and the waterlock was definitely working some, so there was CO2 being produced, but it was nothing like a rolling, active fermentation. I doubt that the D47 had much to do with it. A slight cap persisted for 5 days, at the end of which I decanted it into a pitcher for refrigeration, to halt any further yeast activity.

The verdict: DELICIOUS. Scrumptuously bitter, with lovely herbal and yuletide spice notes. Sweet enough to complement the bitterness — it didn’t even begin to ferment to dryness — without the syrupy heaviness of mauby made from concentrate. It also seems to lack the long, medicinal finish that I noted in the concentrate, but I have a bit of a cold now, so my palate isn’t really on its game. I can see why concentrated mauby is so popular — it’s a fair bit of work for a gallon of beverage — but I much prefer this stuff to R & L brand. Fill a glass with crushed ice, pour in the mauby, dash some Angostura bitters on top and swizzle until well-chilled… then kick back with some Kitch.

I’ve posted about mauby before, and wound up compiling a fair number of informative links in the process. If you’re interested in different recipes, purported health benefits, etc. then see “Mmmm… Mauby!”.

What’s your mauby recipe?

26 thoughts on “Making Mauby”

  1. My non-sinus-impaired opinion on things: I thought your mauby brew imparted a bitter (but, pleasantly so!) aftertaste similar to that of the storebought concentrate. However, I agree that your home-made concoction was vastly superior. Less cloying and more nuanced. In a word: Nummy!

  2. Here it is.

    1 oz. of mavi tree bark
    1 oz. of fresh ginger
    1 stick whole cinnamon
    12 ½ cups of water
    2 ½ cups of sugar
    2 ½ cups of dark brown sugar
    ½ of Active Dry Wine yeast (they cost around 75¢ a bag on the Internet, do a search on Google. It works really well and speeds up the fermentetion. **When all ingredients except the yeast are completed add the yeast to the mix, following envelope directions for the yeast)

    Boil the Mavi tree bark, the ginger, and the whole cinnamon in 1 ½ cups of water in a cooking pot for 5 minutes.

    After the 5 minutes, remove the pot from stove and with a strainer, filter the liquid and let it cool totally. (Like Totally Baby!!)

    Mix 12 cups of water, the sugar and the brown sugar in a big deep bowl. Add yeast as per envelope instructions.

    Add the mavi liquid and mix well until it starts to foam. This recipe equal to 4 liters. (2 Pepsi bottles)

    Pour the mavi into bottles and seal with a plug made out of cloth. Do not plug it too tight or use your underwear to plug it sealed. The fermentation will create pressure just like a pressure cooker effect!

    Please note I live in Buffalo, ny and is really not that hot here 65 to 75 and the mavi ferment really well. This recipe is from the Rican website. I just add it the yeast to the mix.


  3. The recipe on my packet of “West Indian Herbs” mauby said, “Add bark [1 oz pkg],2 star anise, 1 cinnamon stick and dried haitian orange peel to one quart of boiling water. Cook 5-10 minutes. Cool, add sugar and allow to ferment overnight. Air to foam. Add three parts water.
    Sugar Control: Add fennel seed, no sugar. Do not ferment.

    The recipe I am using is on my blog, but it’s not finished yet. I like that you are collecting mavi recipes. There are always new recipes to document.

  4. ingredients

    6 pieces mauby bark, orange peel,cloves, ginger, anise, bayleaf, rosemary leaves fennel, sugar to taste, 1 gallon water
    1 bottle stale mauby drink

    place all ingredients and 1 quart water, (except sugar and stale mauby) in a large pot and boil for 30 minutes strain and discard dregs and allow to cool. In a large container add a portion of the brewed mauby,sugar and stale mauby and mix well. Using a dipper beat until it rises add the remainder of the water and sugar if needed. Beat with dipper a few more times. allow to stand in a loosley container over night. bottle the following day and refrigerate. If more fizz is needed allow to stand outside the refrigerator for a few more days.

  5. OK gang, it the middle of the winter. I have this wicked thirst for Mauby right now. Is the weather going to get in the way of the fermentation or do I have to wait until it gets warmer?


  6. That is interesting: fennel seed instead of sugar in mauby.
    I cannot find out how to use it though – how much fennel seed for example in the recipe given?
    Tried the recipe without marjoram and yeast. Yummy!


  7. ¡Hola, mavi aficionados…I have always loved mavi, always bought it ready-made in the plaza. Now to my question: since sugar and yeast + ingredients ferment, how much sugar is really left in the mavi? I am asking because of type II diabetes. Thanks, Cesar.

  8. Honestly I have never heard of Mauby before. I was surfing the net for a recipe for a summer dfrink and voila! Thank you very much for posting the recipe, it really sounds delicious and I will give it a try. Wish me luck!

  9. I love the Mavi drink, but the only time I ever get to drink it is when I go to Puerto Rico. I live in Washington state. I’m so glad I ran into your site loking for places to get the tree bark. I found out on your site that its actually “mauby” tree bark. Now I can actualy find. I’ve asked several health food stores but no one has ever heard of mavi. Mabe now I have better luck.

  10. Remember people that mauby can be added with milk similar to when you make tea.
    Also you can have it hot as well as cold.
    DIRECTIONS: Mix 1 part syrup with 2 parts water 2 parts milk or as required then heat up in pot.
    Do not bring to boil for you may lose some of the flavour (comfortable hot). Alternativly bring the water in a kettle to aboil then add to other ingredients.
    The mauby bark is the foundation of hundreds of ways to make this refreshing drink.
    Don’t be afraid to experiment. Cheers!!!!

  11. Hi Rev. Pete

    El Mercado Latino at Pike Place Market, right at the corner of Post Alley, carries Mauby Syrup. There is also a Latino Market in Bellevue which carries the syrup as well. You can make the drink by brewing if you want a more original and complex taste.

  12. Hello,

    To all of those that are staying away from drinking mavi due to its rather high sugar content, fermenting it will produce a plethora of other goodies for your health, just as beer and wine have. In fact, mavi is a type of beer, or cider if you prefer and wanna get technical. having said that, you can still enjoy the drink. The first part is just a tea. Brew a tea from the bark and mix in whatever spices/flowers/leaves you like until you get a flavor that you enjoy. Then, whenever you want to taste it with some fizz, make it a little more stronger and mix in with club soda. To sweeten, add your favorite sugar substitute.

    Note that sugar substitutes will not ferment since they do not offer caloric sources, which the yeast and bacteria need to feed on. if you want it brewed, add much less sugar and let it ferment. Then add club soda to boost bubbles and sugar substitute to further sweetening things.

    Mind that club soda will impart a flavor change, so i recommend adding it to the glass the first time in order to find your sweet spot.

    One other way is to ferment with low sugar levels and then add another spoon or so of sugar to a resealable bottle (one that will hold pressure) and let it bottle condition for a further few days. The extra sugar will kick start the fermentation process again, generating CO2 and a little more alcohol but also consuming the remaining sugar.

    I hope this helps.

  13. If you have a homebrewer friend, have them read the original gravity of your brew before fermentation and after fermentation. With this you can calculate a very loose approx of alcohol content (since is from cane sugar, it is similar but not equal to the alcohol in rum)

    Taking that, you can tweak your mavi until you find the alcohol content you want. If you want no sugar left, then i suggest you buy and use wine yeast, which are monster sugar eaters. This yeast will consume almost, if not all, the sugar from your brew leaving a dry drink.

    Add some sugar substitute at serving time and presto.

  14. Can anyone explain:
    how does fermented mavi drink not fall under alcoholic beverage category-laws and regulations etc..?
    I remember reading the labels and it usually does have a small amount of alcohol.
    If I made Mavi and shared it with my children; will their school teachers call the police on me?
    I live in California, you never know what youll get in trouble for…

Comments are closed.