As a cocktail creator, I love reading through old cocktail books and learning about different ingredients that have gone in and out of fashion over the years. Maraschino was one of those ingredients that really piqued my interest, and has served as the inspiration behind a number of my signature cocktails.
When I first started working in bars, Maraschino often referred to those glowing red cherries, filled with artificial sugars, preservatives and colour. However, the Maraschino I’m talking about is a liqueur and has been in production for centuries (most commonly in Croatia and Italy). Made from sour cherries, Maraschino is produced by crushing the fruit with the pits still inside, and then distilling and diluting them with water and sugar to produce a sweet viscous liqueur, rich in fruity and subtle nut flavours.
While there are a few mass-market brands of Maraschino available, there’s now a local product that completely blows away the competition in quality, flavour and versatility. Craft distiller Okanagan Spirits — which was recently awarded World Class Distillery and Distillery Of The Year 2015 from the World Spirits Organization in Klagenfurt, Austria — has released a top tier Maraschino liqueur to add to their already impressive collection. I was lucky enough to get my hands on some of the very first bottles in production, and I can tell you that it’s nothing short of amazing. It’s produced using only three ingredients — neutral fruit alcohol (gluten-free), sugar and local fruit from B.C. — and the result is a Maraschino that’s rich, sweet and loaded with flavour.
Watch for Okanagan Spirits Maraschino on local shelves soon, and have some fun experimenting with this versatile and delicious liqueur. Below are three classic cocktail recipes that get a serious face lift with the addition of Maraschino from British Columbia.
1. The Last Word
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a fresh or preserved cherry.
2. Red Hook
Stir ingredients in a mixing glass and strain to a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a fresh or preserved cherry.
3. Hemingway Daiquiri