My affinity for jarred cherries stems from slurping down Shirley Temples as a baby. If someone handed me a saccharine pink bubbly drink, I knew it was a special day. I turned much more enamored with the fruit when an elementary faculty pal confirmed me how she might tie the stem of a maraschino cherry in a knot together with her tongue—a talent that concurrently fascinated and eluded me.
I’ve since given up my knot-tying aspirations in pursuit of the best possible cocktail cherries for old-fashioneds, Manhattans, and extra. There’s one thing a few high-quality cherry garnish that makes any drink really feel fancier, from a lemon LaCroix to a flute of Champagne to an amaretto or whiskey bitter. We’ve come a great distance from the oddly almond-tasting, Pink Dye 40-laden maraschino cherries of our youth. These 5 manufacturers of cocktail cherries—which embrace tart, candy, and boozy ones—are value the splurge to make no matter you’re sipping extra particular.
You possibly can’t e book an precise journey to Resort Starlino (it’s a made-up title), however pop open a vintage-inspired jar of these velvety Italian cherries and fake you’re on a Roman vacation. Marinating Marasca cherries of their pure juice for two weeks imparts a mushy texture that’s luscious and nearly creamy. Go forward: Spoon two right into a Manhattan and two extra into your mouth. As soon as open, the purple and pink jar serves as a reasonably addition to your house bar—hold it out of the fridge to keep away from crystallizing the cherry syrup.
For these bourbon cherries, Kentucky native MK Hennigan imports wild Amarenas from Italy and ages them in syrup made with natural cane sugar and Previous Forester bourbon, distilled lower than an hour from the place she grew up. (“It’s what my grandmother poured each night earlier than she sat down to observe her exhibits,” Hennigan says.) Her recipe imparts a robust bourbon taste style to each piece of fruit, including an additional punch to any cocktail. The slight bitterness of Amarenas is very divine as a cocktail garnish for a Soiled Shirley, firming down the sweetness.
With a toothsome texture and a pure practically black hue, luxurious Luxardos are the OG refined cocktail cherry (and heavenly in cake or atop ice cream sundaes). They’ve been one of Italy’s presents to the world for over 100 years, harvested from an orchard of greater than 30,000 Marasca cherry timber in the volcanic soil of the Veneto area. Whereas Luxardo retains its recipe top-secret, we do know these candy treats are candied in Mascara cherry juice and fermented cherry wine, making the syrup as scrumptious as the fruit (strive utilizing just a few spoonfuls to taste a milkshake).
If the thought of candy cherries makes your enamel damage, seize a jar of these booze-soaked fruits. Brooklyn-based St. Agrestis (the distillery behind a beloved boxed Negroni) begins by soaking Michigan-grown bitter cherries of their bittersweet amaro for 12 weeks, which imparts an natural, nearly savory taste. The end result: a pronounced and ultra-boozy cherry taste (you’ll be able to style each bit of the 20% ABV) with a slurpable syrup. Some may discover them too sturdy to pop on their very own, however they’re incredible in bourbon cocktails or merely blended with soda and bitters.
These wild-grown Amarena cherries are additionally imported from Italy however are notably tarter than another cocktail cherry we tried because of being gradual cooked in copper pots, which preserves the fruit’s texture and taste. Whereas taste-testing, I dropped a pair in a shot of peanut butter whiskey for a grown-up PB&J. As a result of of their bitter punch, they’re additionally a superb match for an old style cocktail or a neat pour of bourbon, prettily skewered on a toothpick set over a rocks glass. Whether or not you eat them earlier than sipping or save the finest for final is as much as you.