The Maraschino cherry is an often found component of many a delicious cocktail such as the Manhattan, Old Fashioned, Aviation, and some other new ones I’ve been tinkering with. It’s a great garnish as it adds a hit of sweetness, while also a bit of substance with the fruit.
In the US, it’s quite easy to come by “adequate” Maraschino cherries. Most any liquor shop will stock them as well as some grocery stores. You can even find tastier, fancier ones if you so desire to dig in and look. When moving to Barcelona though, I quickly found that there was a huge, massive divide when it came to cocktail culture and the Maraschino cherry was something of a rare beast. Even the classic cocktail bars in town were using squalid cherries.
Initially I was using confectioner cherries like the ones seen above. They somewhat worked much in the same way you can somewhat use a doughnut spare tire to get somewhere when your car blows a flat. After a couple of months using these, it came that cherry season was upon me and with that, I set about the make my own Maraschino cherries and found that not only are they originally Croatian in original, but really quite simple to make.
200ml Maraschino liqueur
Essentially, you make a simple syrup of the water and sugar, bringing the water to a boil and then add in the sugar and let it simmer for a bit to let the water evaporate a little. Then, add in the juice of the lemon, liqueur, and cherries. Let it simmer for about five minutes. Then let it cool and store it in a capped jar in the fridge. Leaving it out will invariably result in funk growing on the top as you’ve essentially created a petri dish ripe for ambient molds to adhere to.
As to the liqueur, most people will opt for the Luxardo brand, which is fine. I use the Bardinet brand which actually comes from Croatia. It’s also useful to keep around for many different cocktails. As to the cherries, yes the original Dalmatian Maraska type are what you are supposed to use, but I find that any cherry used which is in season and ripe will work just fine.
But otherwise, that’s it. You get yourself a pile of cherries that, for the non-Don Draper members of society will easily last until the next cherry season. If you think it won’t, just double it, seek help and/or a potential liver donor.