Maraschino liqueur is not something most people’s house bar will feature nor will you list it as top priority on your alcohol shopping list. The Marasca cherry is the fruit this liqueur is made from and the cherry itself is (in)famous as the cocktail cherry, until recently best known as screaming red artificial garnish in 1980s cocktails.
However, the renaissance of classic cocktails over the last decades has seen the re-emergence of many liqueurs, bitters and other forgotten spirits as well as the original Maraschino cherry. This is the story of a small piece of the Mediterranean coast that made it into our cocktail glasses.
The beautiful country
Croatia is a Central European and Mediterranean country and has a long maritime border with Italy in the Adriatic Sea. Croatia’s coast is speckled with a multitude of magnificent islands. There’s an enormous variety both in size and character – some are verdant, others arid, some are deserted, while others host historic towns. There are 1,185 islands in the Adriatic, but only about 50 are populated.
Sharing food and drink plays a big part in the culture here, which speaks both to the nature of Croatian hospitality and to the quality of local produce. Simple home-style cooking is a feature of family-run taverns, but increasingly a new breed of chefs are bringing a more adventurous approach to the table. Meanwhile, Croatian cheeses, wines and olive oils are making their mark on the world stage, garnering top awards.
Back to the booze and the cherries
Marasca cherries grow to be as beautiful and tasty as they are only in the climate surrounding the ancient city of Zadar on the Croatian Adriatic coastline. Marasca cherries are used to make make what we call today Maraschino.
The original Maraschino arose because cherries are both needy and fussy. Once picked, they’re eager to bruise and deliquesce, making it hard for them to travel distances to market. Enterprising orchardists in the 18 hundreds found they could preserve cherries by bathing them in spirit that itself was distilled from cherry fruit, pits, leaves and stems. This spirit used dates back to the apothecaries of the Dominican monastery at Zara, now Zadar - Croatia, at the beginning of the 16th century.
The Maraschino cherry crossed the Atlantic and started appearing in food and drink in the late 19th century. And it went into cocktails.
The fire-engine cherry
With Prohibition in the USA, cherries could no longer be preserved in alcohol, lest customers suffer from their intoxicating effect. A scientist at Oregon State University, the birthplace of the modern maraschino, found a way to preserve US domestic cherries in non-alcoholic sugar syrup. This he did first by brining them in solution containing calcium salts, which turned them white but avoided the mushiness of regular brining; they could then be colored and flavored.
The rise of craft cocktails starting in the 1990s brought a new generation of bartenders to rethink that maybe serving something the color of a lip gloss and the taste of cardboard wasn’t a best practice. And they began to search through history for what came first.
Renaissance of the originals
Their search led intrepid explorers to the canned cherries made by the Luxardo brand since around 1905, growing their own fruit and bottling them in a syrup of beet sugar and cherry juice.
Luxardo began with Maraschino liqueur in 1820 in Zadar on the Dalmatian coast in modern-day Croatia, but relocated after World War II to Italy’s Veneto region. Their Maraschino cherries look and taste like a long-lost past — they are a dusky maroon rather than fire-engine red, and with an earthy taste tempered by a nutty sweetness.
The original Maraschino cherry has made it back into the bars and so has Maraska Maraschino liqueur. The Maraska brand from Zadar in Croatia still produces in the city where it all started in the 16th century. Maraska's cherries come from the orchards in the Zadar region just like hundreds of years ago.
Maraska Maraschino liqueur, made from the fresh Marasca cherries, itself is integral to many classic cocktails such as the Martinez, Hemingway Daiquiri, Aviation and the Last Word. But it can work in, and some would say improve upon, so many other cocktails. Cheers!
(sources: parts of the content is taken from articles originally published by imbibemagazine.com and thedailybeast.com as well as adriaticpantry.com)
Maraska Maraschino Liqueur
Maraska Maraschino liqueur has been made from the Marasca cherries since the beginning of the 16th century. The export of Maraschino Liqueur started towards the end of the 18th Century.
This original cherry liqueur has conquered the world in the past 200 years. Among the fruits grown around the picturesque city of Zadar, a special kind of Sour Cherry is cultivated that has brought world fame to this area. The distillery even took its name from the noble Marasca cherry that provides the raw material for many of its products.
Maraska Maraschino liqueur is produced from the distillates of the Dalmatian marasca tart cherries and is known all over the world because of its typical sweet taste and the aromatic fragrance of sweet cherries.
700 ml / 32% abv
A bottle of smooth Maracatu Cachaça in a beautiful box.
Handcrafted in a small distillery in the mountains from estate grown sugar cane and expertly batch distilled in a classic copper pot still.
Maracatu Cachaça is the epitome of Brazilian white Cachaça.
Fresh and bold, revealing rich fruity flavours that are smooth on the palate. Maracatu Cachaça can be enjoyed neat or shaken into a delicious cocktail, like the classic Caipirinha.
For recipe ideas: http://www.drinkmaracatu.com/mixology.html
700 ml Maracatu Cachaça bottle
in a beautiful display box
and our booklet "The Art of Mixology"
700 ml / 38% abv
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