Lately, we’ve been testing a recipe for a cocktail that calls for maraschino liqueur. When I first read the recipe, my mind immediately went to those bright red little cherries that crown the top of a hot fudge sundae. So I set out in search of a bottle, half expecting a bottle of neon-red liqueur. I emerged three stores later (this stuff isn’t the easiest to find) clutching a tall bottle of liqueur as clear as water. What a relief.
Since we were using it in a margarita, I decided to try it on its own first, to get to know the taste. The flavor was floral and a bit nutty, with only mild undertones of cherry.
So why does it go by the same name as those processed little cherries? The liqueur is made from Marasca cherries, which grow wild in Croatia and Italy. It’s made by crushing the cherries, along with their pits and stems; the nuttiness comes from the cherry pits. Maraschino cherries come from a European tradition of soaking whole cherries in the liqueur. Of course, maraschino cherries as we know them in the U.S. have, um, evolved a bit: they’re simply dyed and preserved in a brine…sorry kids, no liqueur-soaked cherries on your sundae.
You’ll have to wait a few issues to taste this cocktail, but The Martinez also uses this tasty liqueur.