It’s cherry season in Italy, and I’ve been not so patiently waiting to make another batch of Maraschino cherries. Last year’s batch was stupendous, addictive, a reason to drink another Manhattan. With craft cocktails, Slow Food cocktails, home brewed bitters all the rage, I’m sure you know by now that I’m not talking about those unnatural red things that are sold as “Maraschino” cherries. They gave Maraschino a bad name and should be banned! Or at least called something different like “Radioactive Shirley Temple Cherries.”
Technique: Select cherries with their stems on and not too ripe.
Pit the cherries. With a sharp knife, score the cherry in half, but leaving it intact, use the pit as a knife guide. Separate gently and pry out the pit. Pack firmly into a jar, and cover with Maraschino liquor.
Don’t crush them into the jar, but fill it to the rim with cherries because otherwise they will float.
With all due respect to NPR and Kara Newman, pitting the cherries is vital because you get a much better penetration of the liquor into the cherry. And you also avoid the inelegant pit spitting when you do get to eat your cherry.
Imagine you are drinking a very glamorous Manhattan, the last thing you want do is to start spitting pits at your companion. (Save that game for another time, and besides watermelon pits make better ammo.) Maraschino liquore can be difficult to find, the brand of choice is Luxardo, but like it’s luxurious name, it can be expensive. If you can find a cheaper brand, use it for cherries and pastry cream. In Umbria, I can only find it in the baking section of the grocery store. Odd, but true.
Everyone has their favorite version of a Manhattan, but here’s our current favorite:
2.0 parts rye whiskey
1.0 part sweet vermouth
and a dash of bitter! Angustura please.
(and I've been informed that we've been experimenting with 3:1 Manhattans. Guess you can tell who is the mixologist in our house.)
Stirred and never shaken. Served very, very cold.