Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Maraschino Cherries

In the winter of 2007, I saw a magazine cover that said “Homemade Maraschino Cherries.” I have been a Manhattan drinker for years and long ago eschewed those bright red abominations found on supermarket shelves. Don't get me wrong, I LOVED those cherries as a kid. Especially if they were served in a Shirley Temple or Mor-mor's lime jello molded salad.

I promptly bought that issue of Imbibe magazine and almost immediately signed up for a subscription. Based in Portland, OR, Imbibe magazine packs every bi-monthly issue with cocktail history, bar essentials, recipes, reviews on spirits, beer and the occasional non-alcoholic beverage.

The recipe for maraschino cherries is simple. Put fresh, clean, pitted cherries in a jar and top with maraschino liquor. What could be easier than that?! Well...first, I needed to find maraschino liquor.

Last winter passed and I still never found maraschino liquor. In fact, I had never even tasted it. I figured it tasted like cherries. In May of last year that changed on a trip to the Zig Zag Cafe. The bartender Murray schooled us about many things, including maraschino. First, we learned that it is pronounced mara-skeeno. We also learned that it provides many cocktails - particularly those bourbon or gin-based cocktails I love so much - with a sweet, nutty flavor that can't be beat.

Finally, in the fall of last year I found a bottle of Manhattan. I ended up buying it, toting it home and giving it a good home in my liquor cabinet. It only recently got some action when it made its way into an Aviation, but more on that later.

Local cherries (well, WA state at least) are in season, so I dusted off that old recipe and got to work. Pitting cherries is a hell of a job, made only mildly easier by a cherry pitter. As the recipe says...all you have to do is pit the clean cherries and put them in a jar and top with maraschino liquor.

And wait.

Place the jars in the fridge for a week or two, turning them daily to evenly distribute to liquor. They'll keep fresh for about a month. Although with that much alcohol, I suspect I they'll last a lot longer.

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