Next up in my series of recipes from our latest cocktail party: Maraschino Brandied Cherries. But first, how about a history lesson?
Maraschino cherries started out as a delicacy for royalty and the wealthy. They were such a treat, served only at the finest bars and restaurants! They were produced by soaking wild sour marasca cherries in maraschino liquer (which does not taste like cherries. It is made from the pit of the marasca cherries so it tastes more like almonds).
They made their way over to the states in the late 19th century and by the early 20th, people were trying to come up with more frugal ways to make them so that everyone could have them. These knock-offs had to be labeled as "imitation" though. Eventually Mr. Ernest H. Wiegand (a professor of horticulture) figured out how to use sodium metabisulfite to preserve the cherries (because of Prohibition, alcohol couldn't be used), and thus that horrible dark time where booze was illegal birthed those day-glo red cherries you'll find all over the place today. And ever since 1940, "maraschino cherries" have been defined as "cherries which have been dyed red, impregnated with sugar and packed in a sugar sirup [sic] flavored with oil of bitter almonds or a similar flavor".
LOL! (They left out the part where they bleach them first, and then dye them red).
Well once we'd learned all this, we decided we needed to try the real thing.
We'd looked up the cost of buying real Maraschino Cherries like the ones that Luxardo sells. But they were almost $20 for a jar. Ok granted, these don't wind up being much cheaper but we made them ourselves!!! I decided to combine 2 recipes. This one for Maraschino Cherries and this one for Brandied Cherries.
Brandied Maraschino Cherries
- 1 jar of Trader Joe's Morello Cherries in light syrup (This one is 24 oz. You are looking for a more sour preserved cherry)
- 1/2 Cup Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
- 1/2 Cup Brandy
- 1/2 Cup evaporated (raw) cane sugar
- Strain the cherries, pouring all of the liquid into a small saucepan
- Put the strained cherries in an airtight jar.
- Bring to a boil and add the sugar. Stir (so it doesn't burn) until the sugar is dissolved and then simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. Let cool
- Add the cherry syrup, luxardo, and brandy to the jar. Top off with more luxardo as needed to fill the jar.
- Let sit overnight and store in the refrigerator.
The next day, your cherries will be ready and will keep for quite some time in the fridge. Once they're ready, how about a classic cocktail to go along with it?
We're gonna make a Manhattan!
- 2oz Rye (or Bourbon) Whiskey. (We used Bulleit Bourbon which contains Rye)
- 1/2 oz sweet vermouth
- 2-3 dashes bitters (Angostura or Old Fashioned Aromatic)
- 1 brandied maraschino cherry
- Chill cocktail glass.
- In a mixing glass, combine whiskey, vermouth, and bitters.
- Add ice and gently stir the drink (NO SHAKING!!!! You'll bruise the spirits and get a cloudy drink)
- Drop the cherry into the bottom of the chilled glass and strain cocktail over the cherry.
- When you finish the drink, offer the boozy cherry to your special lady friend.