DIY Cocktail Cherries — because every great cocktail deserves a great garnish, and this is one cherry you won’t leave at the bottom of your glass!
Instead of reaching for a bleached, sweetened and then artificially dyed cherry next time you need a garnish for your favorite cocktail, make your own. These are so good you’ll want to eat them right out of the jar.
My husband’s a Manhattan man, and he insists on a cherry, but he’s very particular about the brand he buys. He doesn’t like chemicals and artificial food colorings, especially the dreaded red dye #40, so he hunts down a premium brand that only one store around here carries. It gets to be a bit of an annoyance when I’m trying to get the grocery shopping done. They’re expensive, and sometimes *gasp* he doesn’t even eat them.
So I took matters into my own hands and made my own — now everybody’s happy and there’s never a cherry left behind in the glass 🙂
As I read through a bunch of recipes for homemade maraschino cherries, one thing stood out—there is no one way to do it. There are all kinds of interpretations out there, so that just emboldened me to do it my own way. Happily, pitted cherries can be marinated in any kind of alcohol, so you’re free to pick whatever you like.
If you want to do the most classic interpretation, simply soak your cherries in authentic Maraschino liqueur, from Italy. That’s the original Maraschino Cherry. It was during Prohibition in the 1930s when alcohol wasn’t available that the sickeningly sweet day-glo cherries that we know all too well today were born.
I happened to have a bottle of Kirsch leftover from making my Fondue Mac and Cheese. Kirsch is a colorless cherry brandy so it seems like a perfect choice to me. I added some Amaretto to my mix because I love the almond flavor, and it goes well with cherry. Finally, for the all important color, I used Pom pomegranate juice. If you like a sweeter cherry, add 1/4 cup of sugar to the mixture, but be sure it’s dissolved before you pour it over your cherries.
Try my other cocktail cherry recipes~
DIY Cocktail Cherries
- 1/2 lb fresh cherries, washed and pitted*
- 1/2 cup Kirschwasser, or cherry liqueur
- 1/4 cup Amaretto
- 1/4 cup Pom pomegranate juice
- Fit your pitted cherries into one large or two small clean jars. Recycled jam or pasta sauce jars work well.
- Put the Kirschwasser, Amaretto, and Pomegranate juice in a small saucepan and bring just up to a simmer. Take off the heat.
- Pour the hot liquid over the cherries in the jars. Make sure the cherries are completely covered in the liquid. Let cool, then cap tightly.
- Store in the refrigerator.
don’t forget to pin it!
Questions and Reviews
I’m definitely making these. Beautiful photographs Sue, thank you.
Let me know what you use for yours, Dani! That’s the nice thing about doing these in small batches, you can really play with the recipe.
Ooooh its cherry season here – time to store – what a great idea.
Then you’re the lucky one! I only made a tiny batch because we’re at the exact opposite of cherry season…that’s probably why I was craving them.
What a fun and BEAUTIFUL post Sue! I love your photos, I can’t wait to show Scott – they’re quite amazing! And these cherries ………….. I never heard of such a thing but WOW, I can’t wait to become a cherry-maker! Thanks for sharing all your wonderful creativity!
Thanks Chris— I’d give anything to get a few lessons from Scott!
Thanks for this recipe. I’ve been looking for simple maraschino recipes. We have sweet cherries in the markets here pretty often and usually I just eat them. I wanted to try maraschino cherries (because I love them in any cocktail) but the recipes I found all called for maraschino liqueur and I can’t find that at my nearby store. I never knew you could use (and was intimidated to experiment with) such a variety of liquors and I love amaretto. Now I am going to do this.
Oh gosh, I think using straight Amaretto would be wonderful—try and let me know!
I do get the Tillen Farms cherries because of the natural flavor and vegetable dyes and no corn syrup, to which my daughter is allergic. But I did try my hand at making them once, using the method that has you salt brine them first. They were gorgeous coming out of the brine and quite tipsy when done. I didn’t get my hands on the proper maraschino liqueur though, and I must admit that I do love the almond flavor in the day glo kind. 😉 Love your tipsy cherries in the Weck jars. They are hard to find around here.
I’m curious what the salt brine does, I guess further preserve them? Does it enhance their color?
These are so pretty…what a beautiful gift to take to a dinner or well acocktail party. They look wonderful in weck jars. Your photography is pretty amazing! I know I always say that, but it’s true!
I really need to be invited to more cocktail parties because you’re right, these would be perfect to bring along. I’m getting obsessed with all the shapes of the canning jars and my husband is getting so frustrated because our refrigerator is a mine field of little jars teetering everywhere just ready to tumble out when he tries to find something to eat.
I’ve never been a fan of Maraschino cherries – but these I would love!
I know, not a fan either, but these are like fresh cherries, only kicked up a little bit!
The cherries would probably be good/on in a number of desserts. A good project for the summer. How long will they last in the refrigerator? And I love the cute jam jars!
I think they’d last a month or so. Probably longer, but we go through them pretty fast. As long as the cherries are submerged in the alcohol and refrigerated, they should keep!
I will be making these the moment cherries appear for me.
I make sour cherry brandy which results in a large jar of very boozy cherries. The issue is that they lose their color after soaking in plum brandy for weeks so they are kind of unattractive. I may have to try taking some of them with their liquor and adding some pomegranate juice to see if they redden up.
I’d love to try your brandy—sounds delicious!
Ive had 2 maraschino cherry recipes in a week and n next week have one more! To say that I love them is an understatement but confess to using the highly processed ones b/c the ones you speak of are no doubt amazing, but pricey.
You are so good for drivinb around for your hub’s cherries…but even better that you made these on your own. I want to buy them 🙂
I was thinking of you because you’re the only one I personally know of who really does like the neon originals!