Tag Archives: Maraschino

When Maraschino Cherries Weren’t Maraschino Cherries

For bartenders Luxardo cherries are the gold standard of cocktail cherries. Maraschino cherries are great for widening the eyes of children, but their artificial flavor & color leave classic cocktails wanting.

Originating in Croatia—where sour cherries are distilled into Cherry Liqueur—the leftovers are thrown in with the liqueur and extra spices.

From 1912 to 1940 the FDA would not let the bright red artificial cherries be called, “Maraschino Cherries,” and only cherries soaked in booze (like the Luxardo Cherries) could wear the title.

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Maraschino Cherries Aren’t Italian

Maraschino Cherries originated in Croatia, where Marasca Cherries grow readily. Much like the apples planted by Johnny Appleseed in the American frontier, these cherries are sour and not fit for eating, but readily turn into delicious liquor!

In the 1800s people started throwing leftover sour cherries into the cherry liquor they had made. The result is a delicious cocktail garnish, and Luxardo makes some of the finest examples in the world.

After destruction of their family factory in World Wars I and II the Luxardo family uprooted and moved to Italy. This is why people familiar with Luxardo Cherries look at me funny when I tell them that they are a Croatian product.

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28-Year Ban on ‘Maraschino Cherries’

To my guests across the bar top who are unfamiliar with them, I describe Luxardo Cherries as top-shelf Maraschino Cherries! In truth they are rich, sweet, & booze-soaked cherries packed with a waterfall of flavors, compared to the bright but chemically-taste of what we today call Maraschino Cherries.

The Luxardo cherries originated in Croatia in 1821 where first cherries are distilled into a cherry liquor. Next fresh cherries are soaked in their own liquor.

In 1912 a precursor to the FDA decided that only cherries that had been soaked in Maraschino liquor should be called Maraschino cherries. After two decades of isolationist rhetoric the legal definition of a Maraschino Cherry was relaxed in 1940.

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