I've wanted to make cocktail cherries for a while now. My husband likes maraschinos in his Manhattans, but he's very particular about the brand he buys. He doesn't like chemicals and artificial food colorings, especially the dreaded red dye #40, so he hunts down a premium brand that only one store around here carries. It gets to be a bit of an annoyance when I'm trying to get the grocery shopping done. They're expensive, and sometimes *gasp* he doesn't even eat them, he leaves them sitting at the bottom of his glass.
I know it's not exactly cherry season, but if you do come across them, buy a small amount and give these a try. Your winter cocktail hour will be the better for it, and come summer when cherries are everywhere, you'll be ready to spring into action!
As I read through a bunch of recipes for homemade maraschino cherries, one thing stood out---there is no one way to do it. There are all kinds of interpretations out there, so that just emboldened me to do it my own way. Happily, pitted cherries can be marinated in any kind of alcohol, so you're free to pick whatever you like.
If you want to do the most classic interpretation, simply soak your cherries in authentic Maraschino liqueur, from Italy. That's the original Marachino Cherry. It was during Prohibition in the 1930s when alcohol wasn't available that the sickeningly sweet day-glo cherries that we know all too well today were born.
I happened to have a bottle of Kirsch leftover from making my Fondue Mac and Cheese. Kirsch is a colorless cherry brandy so it seems like a perfect choice to me. I added some Amaretto to my mix because I love the almond flavor, and it goes well with cherry. Finally, for the all important color, I used Pom pomegranate juice. If you like a sweeter cherry, add 1/4 cup of sugar to the mixture, but be sure it's dissolved before you pour it over your cherries.
Bourbon, Grand Marnier, Dark Spiced Rum, and Limoncello were all on my list of possible choices for these cherries.
DIY Cocktail Cherries
1/2 lb fresh cherries, washed and pitted*
1/2 cup Kirschwasser (or cherry liqueur)
1/4 cup Amaretto
1/4 cup Pom pomegranate juice
- Fit your pitted cherries into one large or two small clean jars. Recycled jam or pasta sauce jars work well.
- Put the Kirschwasser, Amaretto, and Pomegranate juice in a small saucepan and bring just up to a simmer. Take off the heat.
- Pour the hot liquid over the cherries in the jars. Make sure the cherries are completely covered in the liquid. Let cool, then cap tightly.
- Store in the refrigerator.
This is one cherry you won't leave at the bottom of your glass!
Have you made these? What's your recipe?
The purple cocktail? It's an Aviation...recipe here.
*To pit cherries, you can use an inexpensive cherry pitter, or, you make your own using a table fork, see this post.
Other cherry goodies---