My dad’s favorite drink was a Perfect Manhattan on the rocks with two Maraschino cherries. My sister and I would fight to the death at the dinner table with our Shirley Temple swords to get our hands on the cherries in his drink, so he would always spare himself the inevitable scene and order it with two.
Cherry season is in full swing now and as a shout out to my late, great dad, I decided to try making these little delights from scratch. The jarred, red dye #9 variety will always have a special place in my heart, but these are a nice change-up in the summer pantry and could not be easier to make. And the result are sweet and boozy little fruits that are equally good in a summer cocktail as they are topping a sundae (adult style, of course.)
Store-bought Maraschino cherries are typically made with Italian Marasca cherries, but I used red Bings and yellow Rainiers to keep this local and lazy. The recipe is little more than soaking the cherries in Italian Luxardo Maraschino liquor for a few weeks. With notes of honey and almonds, it gives the cherries their undeniable “maraschino-ness.”
If you do decide to use a Rainier cherry, which has a beautiful, yellow and pink colored skin, they will brown slightly over time as they soak in the liquor. But no worries. They are still delicious, and perfect, in my dad’s Perfect Manhattan.
This recipe yields one pint size jar of cherries, but you can use any size container you like and adjust the quantities. TAKE NOTE! These cherries have the pits intact, so a warning to your guests might be in order to avoid any party dental injuries.
1 clean canning jar with lid
About 1 dozen cherries, any variety you prefer
Maraschino Liquor to cover cherries, about 1/3 cup
1 tsp honey
Pack jar with cherries. You don’t want the cherries smashed in the glass jar, but do make sure they are packed tightly as the cherries will float and anything that is above the booze line will brown.
Add honey to liquor and stir to dissolve. Pour over cherries and cover completely. Top with a lid and refrigerate.
Try to wait 2 weeks.