*As recently published in the Weekly Dig.
by Bourbon Belle + Pink Lady
At last we’ve reached that stretch of several months with warm temperatures and deliciously seasonal fruits filling the tables at our local farmer’s market. Cherries are in season now which means you’ve got precious little time to preserve them to use in cocktails. After sampling these, you’ll never want to drop an artificial, borderline florescent “maraschino” cherry into your Last Word again.
Maraschino cherries were named as such because their earliest recipes included the use of the marasca cherry, preserved in a liqueur made from the same fruit, Maraschino liqueur. Over the years, Americans began experimenting with different types of cherries as well as with different flavors, eventually substituting the marasca cherry with the Queen Anne cherry (among others), and adding other flavors to the mix and like natural almond extract. A 1912 USDA regulation stipulates that the maraschino cherry is defined as “marasca cherries preserved in maraschino liqueur” meaning these new adapted cherry recipes had to be labeled as “imitation maraschino cherries”.
Maraschino cherries suffered further insult when Maraschino liqueur was substituted with—then replaced altogether by a—non-alcoholic brine solution for use as a preservative. There is much dispute whether this brine substitution occurred before or during Prohibition, but regardless, the end result is the same. What was at one time a natural, liqueur preserved, delicious delicacy, became a bleached, brined and artificially colored excuse for a piece of fruit.
There are many different ways to go about making sweetened preserved cherries. Here’s a recipe we enjoy, courtesy of “King Cocktail” Dale DeGroff.
Homemade Maraschino Cherries
Wash, de-stem and pit cherries. Pack them into a jar filled with sugar. Allow them to sit for a day, then pour Luxardo Maraschino liqueur over the cherries, filling the jar with liquid. Marinate for a week then taste.