While judging on the taste panel for the Thailand Martini-Rosso Grand Prix Bartending competition last week, I saw a lot of Maraschino cherries being used as garnishes. Way too many, in fact.
I double checked my name tag to make sure that I wasn’t at George Washington cherry convention.
How did the Maraschino cherry, once produced for the wealthy and royalty, become the garnish to use when all imagination fails?
When guests walk into a bar and they don’t know what to order, they order a Heineken.
When guests walk in to an Italian restaurant and don’t know what to order, they order the spaghetti.
When out shopping for a car, unless you know what you want, you’ll end up with a Honda Civic.
In the bartending world, it seems that if you don’t know what to use as a garnish (or whether to use one at all), you end up with a Maraschino cherry.
Sometimes even a Maraschino cherry pitch-forked together with a lime. Impressive. Pixar is searching for this kind of creativity.
In addition to being the barman’s crutch for creativity, these sticky bulbs of brightness “which have been artificially dyed red, impregnated with sugar, and packed in a sugar syrup flavored with oil of bitter almonds or a similar flavor,” can’t possibly be helping in a world that wants organic, local, and environmentally sustainable food products. Plus, they taste as if they’ve been muddled against a used rubber yoga mat.
Let’s just scrap ‘em. Seriously.
Well, except for Shirley temples. Kids need all the red dye and sugar they can get.
Now, there are some legitimate cocktails that call for the Maraschino cherry – the Manhattan, for example. So, I’m calling not for the end of all cherries, but rather, the end of all these particular Maraschino cherries.
Here’s the solution:
Take your own cherries
Here in Bangkok, the Northwestern Red cherries work best – they are a bit more expensive, but they’re worth it.
Soak the cherries over night in Maraschino liquor (this liquor is a product of Marasca cherries (not to be confused with the juice that holds Maraschino cherries).
And there ya go. Easy.
Plus, like the Maraschino cherries, you still have the stem to show off your erotic tongue-twisty capabilities.