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Sep 15, 2009 03:12 PM

Luxardo Maraschino cherries not at all worth the price

I knew homemade cocktail cherries would undoubtedly be better, but I figured I would give Luxardo Maraschino cherries a try due to the convenience factor. I must say, I feel quite the fool for dishing out $20 for a jar of these.

I found the taste only marginally different from the average jar of neon red maraschinos. For me, the two main advantages are the more natural dark red color, and the slightly meatier texture. Apparently I should have heeded my doubts upon seeing from the label that these are simply cherries in sugar syrup.

My advice is give all maraschino cherries, including the more genuine and highly priced Luxardo ones, a pass. Next time, I will try making my own cocktail cherries, perhaps soaking some bing cherries in brandy.

If you disagree, or have found some worthwhile jarred cherries, feel free to reply.

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  1. I don't doubt that homemade cherries would be better, but I love the Luxardo cherries. They have a nice texture and are a big step up from the candied horrors that most bars use. They have real cherry flavor too, which interacts well with the spirits in my Manhattan.

    Yes, they are expensive, though I get them for closer to $15 per jar.

    6 Replies
    1. re: sku

      can you direct me to where you buy them?

        1. re: NINII

          www.thebostonshaker.com. Support a small business.

          www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

          1. re: EvergreenDan

            Agreed. I wasn't aware that he sold 'em.

        2. Maraschino cherries may have their place after all. Personally, I use my own brandied cherries whenever I'm making a drink, but if one needed a cherry for a non-alcoholic drink, that would most certainly rule out brandied cherries...

          1. I agree, was underwhelmed by the Luxardo cherries. Last Christmas they had them here in boston essentially for free. It was buy a bottle of Luxardo Marashino liquor and get two bottles of cherries for free.

            I far prefer my homemade cherries.

            45 Replies
            1. re: StriperGuy

              Striper, any chance you could post the redipe for your cherries? I've been wanting to make some, but haven't found a decent recipe.

              1. re: invinotheresverde

                Cocktail Cherry Recipe:
                - Blanch cherries in very Salty boiling water for 4 minutes
                - Rinse and soak for a few minutes in cool water to get rid of salt
                - Place cherries in large jar
                Add healthy amounts of the following: star anise, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, allspice, anise seed, fennel seed
                - Make some REALLY concentrated red hibiscus tea (this is to help the cherries keep their color) and add 1/2 cup to the bottle
                - If you can find some good cherry juice add a cup to the jar
                - Fill the rest of the jar with vodka or cheap brandy
                - Add sugar to taste
                - Wait at least a month


                  1. re: invinotheresverde

                    They are spicy, awesome, and blow away any other cocktail cherry I have ever had.

                    The juice in the jar itself makes a delicious addition to drinks as well.

                    1. re: StriperGuy

                      I hope this doesn't sound like a dumb blonde question...but why do you soak the cherries in salted water first? and how salty?

                      1. re: katidyd

                        The recipe above is my own creation based on several other recipes I read. Short answer: I am not exactly sure why, but several recipes I saw suggest that. I will also add that the finished cherries have a very nice firm texture and I think the salt water blanch has something to do with it.

                        I can only imagine that the salt water blanch draws some water out of the cherries, firming them up, and then also makes the skins more permeable to the spices/booze. But I am only guessing here.

                        How salty? I probably did a 1/2 cup of kosher salt to 2 quarts of water.

                        1. re: StriperGuy

                          Thanks much - if our farmers' market still has cherries when I go today I will definitely be making this this weekend.

                          1. re: StriperGuy

                            StriperGuy - do you pit the cherries? How long do you think they would stay good? I'm mad I just saw this and now have to wait until next cherry season to try!

                            1. re: kayowinter

                              No need to pit. And with all the alcohol and sugar they keep semi-indefinitely. Certainly good for a year or so...

                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                we talking bing cherries or sour cherries?

                                1. re: Produce Addict

                                  I used bing. I would like to try sour. I think if I try sour I may go lighter on the spices cause they are a bit more delicate and have their own delicious flavor.

                    2. re: StriperGuy

                      Not bad to add 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice too.

                      Other optional additions:

                      - Orgeat syrup or almond extract

                        1. re: Meann

                          So glad you liked them, they are easily the best cocktail cherries I have ever had.

                        2. re: StriperGuy

                          Are fresh sour cherries essential for this recipe, or do any fresh cherries, like Bing, work?


                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                            As I said above... I used bing. I would like to try sour. I think if I try sour I may go lighter on the spices cause they are a bit more delicate and have their own delicious flavor.

                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                              funny that we both asked this question at the same time! thanks striper guy for the response. i've made brandied cherries with sour cherries (no recipe, just put them in brandy) and they were good but not very firm, so i am excited to try your recipe.

                              1. re: Produce Addict

                                I have to try sour cherries. I assume the salt water will firm those up the same way it worked with the bing cherries.

                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                  I could be wrong, but I think the firmness has to do with the liquid essentially dehydrating the cherries somewhat as they pickle. Maybe, since you're doing whole unpitted cherries, blanching makes the skin a little more amenable to osmosis.

                                  I've been doing pitted ones, without any pre-treatment, and they come out perfectly firm. I figured out to only put the spices in for half as long as you do to avoid them becoming more like bitters.

                                  1. re: ted

                                    Hmmmmm, interesting. Mine are way spicy punchy so I could definitely see straining out the spices after a few days for a milder cherry.

                                    1. re: ted

                                      Haven't tried the salt blanching yet, but I always pit mine (other than my first batch) - they do soften up a little more, but it's much easier to deal with eating, and they're much easier to pit when they're fresh.

                                      I do usually leave the stems and pits in the jar for flavor, though.

                                      1. re: will47

                                        I've made two batches this summer. One is pretty much exactly as Striper describes in his original recipe, with vodka. Then I decided to do another batch, varying the ingredients, but adhering to the method with the salt water boil etc. but not using the tea. Here's what I added to the jar: fennel seed, cinnamon stick, whole allspice, cardamom pods, slices of fresh ginger, a vanilla bean, and slices from a habanero pepper (!) and sugar. As I say, skipped the tea, but used 1.5 Cups of cherry juice and the rest was brandy. Just tried one, and pretty darned good, gotta say... might add a bit more habanero for a bit more kick. So glad I saw this thread in cherry season!

                                        1. re: gordonb810

                                          Glad you like em. I have been working on mine all summer. They are tasty.

                                          I like the addition of fresh ginger.

                                          Some recipes advocate pitting, but then cracking the pits and including the interior seed which adds a nice cherry/bitter almond note. Not sure it's worth the trouble.

                                          1. re: StriperGuy

                                            Hi StriperGuy... Am totally impressed with your cherry recipe, so many thanks for sharing this with all of us who want to add a bit of home cookin to our manhattans etc this coming winter. Also, you are definitely keepin up with this thread! Just to note on my earlier comment: I mentioned that I thought i would add a little more habanero to the mix, now I don't think so... actually could feel the mild burn (it was mild, but definitely there) pretty much all afternoon after I sampled the cherry today, so enough is enough. Don't want to overwhelm, just add a subtle note. But I do think I might add another vanilla bean... Also, I think that the brandy works better than vodka as it adds roundness... I wonder what they would be like if you used bourbon or rye instead of vodka or brandy? And while you are at it, maybe a half cup of sweet vermouth. Why not take it in the direction of the drink you are mixing? hmmmmmm.... If I can find some more cherries in good shape, think it will be time for a third edition! Thanks for all!

                                            1. re: gordonb810

                                              Hmmmm, brandy next time.

                                              I like heat, but not in my cocktail cherries ;-)

                                              Glad you enjoyed em.

                                              Next try making your own bitters... YUM

                              2. re: StriperGuy

                                Any approximation on the amount of sugar to use? Also do you usually make these in a 1L jar or 1/2L?

                                Just picked up cherries and hibiscus tea and am ready for my first batch!

                                1. re: Klunco


                                  I just used random jars I had lying around the kitchen and added sugar in each until the liquid in the jars was good and sweet.

                                  Key piece is not to over-blanch, you don't want to cook the cherries.

                                  Honestly this recipe is pretty hard to mess up, and in a few weeks you will have awesome cocktail cherries. Please report back and say how they turn out.

                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                    Will do, only difference is I think I'm going to pitt the cherries. Thanks for the recipe Striper!

                                    1. re: Klunco

                                      God bless you, that's a lot of work. I kinda like em with the pits.

                                    2. re: StriperGuy

                                      One suggestion from my attempt last year: go really easy on the spices. You can always add more, but once they have too much anise / fennel / licorice flavor, you can't get rid of it.

                                      And the blanched ones were better than the raw ones. (Should have believed SG.)

                                      www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Tease StriperGuy

                                      1. re: EvergreenDan

                                        I must've got lucky on the spicing and the blanching. I just blanched em the first time and it worked.

                                        One of the jars I made I went a little heavy on the cinnamon sticks, but that was okay. I bet too much anis flavor would be a bit much though.

                                        One of my favorite things is that the syrup they are in ends up as a delicious addition to cocktails as well. I put a splash in my Aviations and my Manhattans.

                                        1. re: EvergreenDan

                                          Did you blanch pitted ones or unpitted? Should I blanch the pitted cherries?

                                          Will definitely go easy on fennel. I LOVE pastis but not in my cherries. I'm going to use brandy and was even thinking about adding a splash of Campari. Anyone tried this?

                                          1. re: Klunco

                                            I would blanch then pit, not the other way around.

                                          2. re: EvergreenDan

                                            What was better about the blanched ones? I'm trying to understand what effect the blanching has on the result.

                                            Also, how does the texture compare with the Luxardo or Fabbri cherries?

                                            1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                              Never had Luxardo. The blanched ones have a slightly soft texture. The raw ones were crispy -- like a fresh cherry. Somehow this was less appealing in a cocktail.

                                              1. re: EvergreenDan

                                                Yeah, when I made these the other night my cherries were definitely very firm before blanching. After blanching they softened a bit but still held their shape.

                                              2. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                The Luxardo and Fabbri are just candied to death. Likely boiled in a sugar syrup. Mine end up less like candied fruit and more like... wait for it... cherries.

                                        2. re: StriperGuy

                                          I'm glad I found your post. I just made a recipe of homemade maraschino cherries that involves a brine and then a simple syrup and Luxardo soaking liquid. I tried one and it is unpalatable, but I guess I have to give it a month to soak?


                                          1. re: Zusie

                                            Hmmmm, I like maraschino well enough, but it is not what I would choose to soak my cherries in. They do need to soak for at least a few weeks regardless.

                                            Do you like the taste of maraschino? If not, you won't like the cherries. Take a look at the soaking liquid I describe above. Way better then that boring recipe from the paper. You could certainly just take the cherries out of the maraschino and switch over to the liquid above...

                                          2. re: StriperGuy

                                            Thank you for the delicious-sounding recipe, Striper. But damn you for giving me another reason to hate it not being summer.

                                            1. re: StriperGuy

                                              How do you store the cherries? Refrigerate or store at room temperature?

                                                1. re: scubadoo97

                                                  Store on the shelf. I've had my current bottle for over a year and have no issues. Last bottle I had, I stored in the fridge and the liquid congealed into some seriously thick/semi-solid gloop in a month or so.

                                                  1. re: The Big Crunch

                                                    That's strange. I guess it depends on what they are in. Mine are in a pretty potent alcohol syrup

                                                2. re: NaFLa

                                                  I've stored open bottles (probably unnecessarily) in the fridge, sealed ones have lasted months on the shelf for me...

                                          3. I agree that homemade are better, but I think the Luxardo cherries are worth the price, and they're available year-round.


                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                                              Agree 100%. You may not like them, but they taste the same or only marginally different from the neon red ones? I must strenuously disagree with that statement. Does anyone know how much the Amarena brand costs? It would be nice to find a slightly less expensive alternative.

                                              1. re: kimfair1

                                                Amarena Fabbri cherries are ~$23 for net wt of 21 oz. Luxardo Marachino cherries are ~$18 for net wt of 12.7 oz. So the Amarena Fabbri cherries are roughly $1.10 per oz, while the Luxardo are roughly $1.40 per oz. (Some of each jar is syrup of course.)

                                            2. Old post, but:

                                              I've been using Amarena cherries for my drinks lately. They're expensive, but God, they're addictive. Highly recommended!

                                              7 Replies
                                              1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                I am trying to find where to buy these in the Boston area. (Luxardo or Amarena). Any suggestions?

                                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                                    I believe i saw them at the Boston Shaker in Davis, but please give them a ring to confirm.

                                                    1. re: tomjb27

                                                      Ding Ding Ding! This is where we found them.

                                                      1. re: tomjb27

                                                        Cambridge Wine and Spirits (is this its old name or new name, I can never remember) -- the one next to the Alewife Whole Foods -- has them too, for about $18/jar.

                                                    2. re: noradeirdre

                                                      South End Formaggio and the Wine Gallery in Brookline are two places I've bought the Luxardo cherries.


                                                      1. re: noradeirdre

                                                        I get them from my work, so I'm not sure.