In the theatre of the bar, Maraschino Liqueur has long been billed as a character actor. It’s relatively recognizable, thoroughly dependable and very much a team player.
You will recognise it from some of the best classic cocktails like the Aviation, the Hemingway Daquiri and the Martinez (and the ones we also have listed). It is an ingredient you can depend on it to improve the flavour of any of these drinks and it is a team player in that it works well with just about any spirit.
So we’ve established that Maraschino Liqueur is one of those ingredients that you should always have in your arsenal, but what exactly is it? Well, also just like a character actor, this is one ingredient that is far from what it first appears to be.
When you hear that is made from cherries, the first thing you will think is that it’s sweet and dark but Maraschino is made from Marasca cherries which are a type of sour Morello cherry and crushed cherry pits, which give it a subtle bitter almond flavour. The resulting liquid is, in fact, dry and relatively sour.
When you hear that the cherries are processed and distilled much like brandy, then you’ll probably think of it as a spirit but it is actually one of the very few liqueurs in the world produced by distillation.
When you clear that it is aged for two years, we’ll expect that it is dark like a whiskey, taking its colour from the wood but it is actually aged in white Finnish ashwood vats and remains crystal clear in colour.
Now while it maybe not quite what you expect, Maraschino Liqueur has a long history behind the bar but a word of caution. Little any character actor, it can go a long way to bring your cocktail production together but a little can go a long way.
So when you use it, use the judgement of a good casting director and use it very deliberately, as it can become a little cloying and easily overused.