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Maraschino cherries, or at least the artificially bright red super sweet cherries that are plunked into Manhattans and nestled atop ice cream sundaes, are polarizing.
They’re pretty, but their flavor is, at best, boring. Even as a kid, I tended to leave them uneaten.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Better versions of cocktail cherries exist. You can buy fancy Luxardo cherries, made with marasca cherries and soaked in a tart Maraschino liqueur syrup. They are delicious. And also expensive.
But, if you can find fresh cherries (or jarred cherries in syrup), you can also make your own.
I’ve learned, after trial and error, that I don’t love heavily spiced cocktail cherries or obscenely boozy bourbon-soaked cherries or anything overly complicated.
It turns out my favorite cherries to drop into cocktails are simple brandied cherries.
They still retain their natural cherry flavor, and they don’t muddy up a drink with spices that might not quite go.
The process is simple. I like to start with sour cherries, but sweet bing cherries also work here.
I remove the pits (you could save them and use those and use them in orgeat) and tuck the cherries into mason jars. And then let them soak in a brandy-simple syrup.
You can use them in drinks as soon as they cool, but they get better and more rich with brandy flavor the longer they rest.
The alcohol and the sugar work as preservatives and these keep in the refrigerator pretty much indefinitely. (I went crazy a year ago with a huge batch of these and the ones I have left are still good.)
(Oh, and if you like a boozy milkshake they’d be pretty amazing in place of the blackberries in these milkshakes)
They make a satisfying garnish to a thoughtfully made cocktail. And I never leave these at the bottom of the glass uneaten.
- 1 cup (200 grams) brandy
- 2/3 cup (150 grams) water
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
- 4 cups (600 grams) sour cherries, pitted
- Add the brandy, water, and sugar to a small saucepan and heat over medium until the sugar has dissolved.
- Fill two pint jars with the pitted cherries. Carefully pour the brandy syrup over the cherries until the cherries are covered with the liquid. Put lids on the jars and store in the refrigerator. Use to garnish drinks as desired.
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The Preservation Kitchen: The Craft of Making and Cooking with Pickles, Preserves, and Aigre-Doux
Cocktail Mixing Glass 500ml
Cocktail Kingdom Teardrop Barspoon - Stainless Steel / 30cm
Yarai Rocks Glass 7.5oz (225ml) / 6 Pack
CherriesGreenbrier Morello Cherries 12.5 fl oz (Pack of 2)
Luxardo, Gourmet Cocktail Maraschino Cherries 400G Jar (if you don't want to make your own)
Bitters Triple Play Variety 3-Pack: Angostura, Peychauds and Regans
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 27Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 0gSugar: 4gProtein: 0g