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How to Make Maraschino Cherries

By
Matthew Krimmel
Table of Contents
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A maraschino cherry, or cocktail cherry, is a sweetened and preserved cherry, typically produced from light-colored sweet cherries. Many cocktails include a maraschino cherry, including the Manhattan, the Old Fashioned, and the Whiskey Sour.

It's also a popular topping for ice cream sundaes, cakes, cupcakes, and other delectables on a dessert menu. Learning how to make maraschino cherries is a good skill to have if you make cocktails or bake pastries.

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How to Make Maraschino Cherries

Maraschino cherries originated in Croatia in the early 1800s. Their early producers soaked them in maraschino liqueur, which gave them their name. They quickly gained popularity in other parts of Europe.

Italian-style maraschino cherries arrived in the United States in the early 1900s, but Prohibition prevented the masses from enjoying them in their cocktails.

Ernest Wiegand, a professor at Oregon Agricultural College, developed the first modern maraschino cherries in the 1920s. His research focused on improving the brining process for the cherries so they would stay soft.

It made it possible for farmers to preserve cherries without using alcohol.

How Do They Make Maraschino Cherries?

In the United States, the cherry season begins in spring and lasts throughout the summer. It's hard picking and pitting the cherries, but preserving them for later use is relatively easy.

First, the cherries get soaked in a brine solution with calcium chloride and sulfur dioxide. It bleaches the cherries, removing their natural red color and flavor. The cherries are left soaking in the brine solution for four to six weeks.

Next, they soak in a solution of red food dye, sugar, and bitter almond oil for about one month. It gives the cherry the bright, red appearance we see when it garnishes our cocktails.

Maraschino Cherry Recipe

Are you interested in making homemade maraschino cherries to go with your cocktails? Looking to bake a batch of cupcakes for a birthday party and need something for garnishing?

Here's a quick and easy maraschino cherry recipe for creating your own:

Ingredients: 3 pounds of sweet cherries (remove the pits and stems)

For the brine: 2 quarts of water, 1 tablespoon of pickling salt/brining salt/kosher salt

For the syrup: 4.5 cups of sugar, 3 cups of water, 1 lemon (juiced), red food coloring, 1 ounce of almond extract

Directions: First, you're going to brine the cherries. Gather your ingredients, add the water and pickling salt to a pot and bring it to a boil.

Stir the salt until it dissolves. Let it cool for about 10 minutes, then pour it over the pitted sweet cherries. Cover it and let it sit for 12 hours or overnight.

Drain the cherries and rinse them in cold water. You can discard the brine as you won't need it any longer. Place the cherries in a bowl and set them aside.

Next, you're going to make the syrup and soak the cherries in it. Combine the sugar, water, lemon juice, and red food coloring in a medium saucepan. Bring them to a boil, stir to dissolve the sugar, and remove from the heat. Pour the liquid over the cherries, cover them, and let them sit for 24 hours.

Drain the cherries and keep the juice from them. Set the cherries aside and bring the juice to a boil. Remove them from the heat and stir in the almond extract. Pour the warm liquid over the cherries.

Pack the cherries with juice in clean jars and store them in the refrigerator for two weeks.

Cocktails With Maraschino Cherries

Many cocktails are made even more enticing by adding a bright cherry garnish. Maraschino cherries vary widely according to the type of cherry used and the preservation method.

Some cherries give a taste of brandy, while others hint at whiskey or some other spirit.

Here are 10 cocktails with maraschino cherries, including how to make them:

1- Manhattan

What you need:

  • 1.5 parts rye whiskey
  • 0.75 part sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes bitters
  • 1 whole maraschino cherry
  • ice cubes

How to make it: Fill a mixing glass with ice cubes. Add all ingredients and stir. Strain into a cocktail glass and add the cherry.

2- Old Fashioned

What you need:

  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon simple syrup
  • 2 dashes bitters
  • 1 orange slice
  • 1 whole maraschino cherry
  • 1 large ice cube

How to make it: Add the simple syrup and bitters into an old fashioned glass and stir. Add the ice cube and pour bourbon over the ice. Garnish with the orange slice and cherry.

3- Whiskey Sour

What you need:

  • 1.5 parts bourbon
  • 1 part lemon juice
  • 0.75 part simple syrup
  • 0.33 part egg white
  • 1 whole maraschino cherry
  • ice cubes

How to make it: Fill a shaker with ice cubes. Add all ingredients and shake. Strain into a rocks glass and add the cherry.

4- Venetian Beauty

What you need:

  • 1 part scotch whiskey
  • 0.33 part (each) cherry brandy, sherry
  • 1 whole maraschino cherry
  • pineapple to taste
  • ice cubes

How to make it: Fill a mixing glass with ice cubes. Add all ingredients and stir. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with cherry and pineapple.

5- Amaretto Sour

What you need:

  • 1.5 parts amaretto
  • 1 part lemon juice
  • 0.66 part simple syrup
  • 0.33 part egg white
  • 1 orange slice
  • 1 whole maraschino cherry
  • ice cubes

How to make it: Fill a shaker with ice cubes and add all ingredients. Shake and strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with the orange slice and cherry.

6- Rob Roy Sweet

What you need:

  • 2 parts rye whiskey
  • 1 part sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes bitters
  • 1 whole maraschino cherry
  • ice cubes

How to make it: Fill a mixing glass with ice cubes. Add all ingredients and stir. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a cherry.

7- Tequila Sunrise

What you need:

  • 1.5 parts tequila blanco
  • 4 parts orange juice
  • 1 dash grenadine
  • 1 orange wedge
  • 1 whole maraschino cherry
  • ice cubes

How to make it: Fill a highball glass with ice cubes. Add orange juice and tequila. Float grenadine. Garnish with the orange wedge and cherry.

8- Sex on the Beach

What you need:

  • 0.75 part vodka
  • 3.33 parts (each) light orange juice, cranberry juice
  • 0.75 part peach schnapps
  • 1 lime wheel, 1 whole maraschino cherry
  • ice cubes

How to make it: Fill a highball glass with ice cubes. Add all ingredients. Garnish with a lime and a cherry.

9- Mai Tai

What you need:

  • 2 parts Martinique rum
  • 0.75 lime juice
  • 0.5 part orange curacao
  • 0.25 part orgeat almond syrup
  • 0.25 part simple syrup
  • 1 sprig mint leaf, 1 whole maraschino cherry, 1 lime wheel
  • ice cubes

How to make it: Fill a shaker with ice cubes. Add all ingredients and shake. Strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a mint leaf sprig, a lime wheel, and a cherry.

10- Hurricane

What you need:

  • 1 part light rum
  • 0.5 part (each) navy rum, orange juice, pineapple juice
  • 0.25 part (each) lime juice, passion fruit syrup, lime cordial
  • 1 pineapple wedge
  • 1 whole maraschino cherry
  • ice cubes

How to make it: Fill a shaker with ice cubes. Add all ingredients and shake. Strain into a highball glass filled with ice cubes. Garnish with a pineapple wedge and a maraschino cherry.

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Make Your Own Maraschino Cherries

Maraschino cherries are easy and inexpensive to make. It's possible to store them for several months and keep them handy for cocktails and pastries. If you decide to create your own batch, then you can enjoy them with the satisfaction of knowing your hard work paid off.

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