Long before Maraschino cherries became an unnatural chemistry experiment they were a delicacy.
Made in northern Italy since the early 1800s, they arrived in America in the late 19th century and quickly became a fixture in better bars. Luxardo was among the original exporters.
These are the original Maraschino cherries. Instead of glowing red, Luxardo’s cherries are deep purple and burgundy. They’re suspended in thick cherry syrup. When you bite, they have a small pop. After, there's a lingering sweet cherry flavor with absolutely none of the formaldehyde burn that mars the atomic grocery store versions.
Use them whenever your cocktail book calls for a cherry garnish. In a Tom Collins, a Singapore Sling, a Saskatchewan Paralyzer, a Witch's Tit. All drinks will improve with a real maraschino cherry. Don't throw the syrup away, either—it's excellent in cocktails or on ice cream.
At Zingerman's Roadhouse, the cocktail menu is full of Luxardo cherries. They show up in the Manhattans, the Old Fashioneds, and notably, in a bartender favorite—the Corpse Reviver #2.
Corpse Reviver #2
.75 oz Plymouth Gin
.75 oz Cointreau
.75 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
.75 oz Lillet Blanc
Shake all ingredients together, then strain into a Martini glass. Garnish with a Luxardo cherry.
"Luxardo maraschino cherries from Italy are well known to mixologists and many of their customers, but to anyone who has yet to taste them their deliciousness is a revelation. The flavor of these cherries together with the natural dark color and substantial crunch put them in a different world from the bright red kind. The syrup, never wasted, goes into drinks or pastry or onto ice cream or whatever you want."
Ed Behr, The Art of Eating