I’ve always hated the taste and texture of those neon-red, artificial maraschino cherries that seem to be the norm when it comes to garnishing drinks. Homemade maraschino cherries are so much better … full of real cherry sweetness and a much more pleasing soft-but-not-mushy texture. Best of all, DIY cocktail cherries are ridiculously easy to make. The hardest part is pitting the cherries, but it’s the kind of prep work you can do while watching TV (or you can bribe a child to do it).
I make ‘em with whatever cherries I can find (usually Bing), but sour cherries are closest to the traditional Marasca cherries used. It’s a really flexible project. Maraschino liqueur is made from cherry pits and has a nice sweet and nutty flavor. Luxardo is the easiest brand to find. But if you don’t want to use maraschino liqueur, you can use another kind of liqueur or a combination of liquor and sugar or honey. One of my favorite variations is to use bourbon and honey in place of the liqueur (or a bourbon honey liqueur, like American Honey).
DIY Maraschino Cherries
1 cup maraschino liqueur
1 pint cherries, pitted and stemmed
Simmer the liqueur in a small sauce pot. Remove from heat and add in the cherries. Once the mixture has cooled, pour it in a glass jar and refrigerate for at least 48 hours before use. Store in the refrigerator for up to two months.
Photo by Jackson Stakeman