On hot days, itinerant fruit stands that display stalks of sugar cane are a good bet for a cool drink. Sugar cane juice itself, however, is not always an option; in New York, the Latin American vendors who run most such stands usually leave the laborious peeling and pressing of the cane to the customer. It's more common to find drinking coconuts, which can be opened with just a few whacks of a machete.
Another possibility is the nonalcoholic homebrew shown here, made from cane sugar, island spices, and the bark of a certain Caribbean tree. Dominican and Puerto Rican vendors might spell it mabi or mavi, with or without an accent on the "i", except that these jugs are invariably unlabeled. At eateries with roots elsewhere in the Caribbean, the drink called mauby employs the same ingredients but is typically much less sweet, to the point of astringency. (See also the comments, online, regarding mabi and mauby.)
Don't be fazed by the foam; a pinhole has been poked in each cap to release excess pressure from the ongoing fermentation. By the jug or by the cup (about 16 fl. oz., $2), the well-rounded flavor of this mabi suggests a tropical root beer.
Mabi and fruit vendor
Liberty Ave., north side, a little east of the Van Wyck, Jamaica, Queens
Hours irregular; try mid to late afternoon