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Maraschino or Manhattan? Find the Best Cocktail Cherries

It wasn’t easy finding the best cocktail cherries without searching for a long time!

Whether it is a seductive Sex on the Beach, an elegant Manhattan or a playful Malibu Pina Colada, I like all my drinks with a cherry – more for the added taste the simple ingredient can bring than the added visual.

For me, my cocktails are incomplete without the contrast of a bright red cherry in it – the cherry on top, if you must!

Pun intended.

It is especially my Manhattans and Old-Fashioneds that I am most choosy about. I can never be completely satisfied with the taste of my cocktails unless it comes with my favorite cherries.

Is it the same for you?

If you too are looking for the best cherries for Manhattans or the best cherries for Old-Fashioneds, I have a few suggestions for you.

What Cherries Are Used In Cocktails?

We usually see a single cherry sitting inside a cocktail glass or on top of our sundaes.

Ahhh…that divine feeling!

These cherries are not just there to look good or to create an aesthetic contrast with your food, but because they usually add a distinct flavor to your sundaes, desserts, cakes and cocktails. It is especially in cocktails that cherries make the most impacts.

Now listen:

Usually, when we talk about the cocktail sour cherries, we naturally mean Maraschino cherries; it is because these are the cherries used in most drinks, Maraschino cherries have been named “cocktail cherries”.

In the two most popular cocktails around the world – the Manhattan and the Old-Fashioned – Maraschino cherries are mostly used by professional bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts all over the world.

And guess what?

Maraschino cherries usually come from Italy, but some other locally grown varieties have been known to be used in cocktails, as well, namely sour cherries, Oregon cherries, luxardo cherries etc.

9 Best Cocktail Cherries to Get Best Alcoholic Kick

Make your own sour cherries with right preserve is time-consuming as well as daunting.Here is a list of the best cherries that you can find anywhere, suitable for any kind of cocktails and drinks, including my favourite – the best maraschino cherries.

1. Trader Joe’s Pitted Amarena Cherries – Maraschino cherry beloved by everyone

Trader Joe’s Pitted Amarena Cherries

Yes, these aren’t my favorite maraschino cherries, but kind of like a close relative.

Why?

These Amarena cherries from Trader Joe’ maraschino cherries comes in a beautiful container that I personally love, as well. With a shipping weight of only 1.5 pounds, you get dozens of cherries immersed in delicious drink.

Amarena maraschino cherries are actually a new kind of cherries that not a lot of people have tried in their drink or cocktails. In fact, I have myself only used it once, but been completely satisfied with the taste and the quality.

Good for you.

The Amarena cherries that you get in these containers from Trader Joe’s come with pitted cherries that have their stems intact – perfect for simply popping one on your ice-cream sundaes, drinks, cakes, cupcakes and other desserts.

As far as I can tell from using them, they are completely natural and produced without any artificial coloring or flavoring; extremely sweet and just the perfect natural taste of cherries that your Manhattans and other cocktails need.

Pros:

  • Completely natural
  • Packaged without any artificial coloring or flavoring
  • Whole pitted cherries
  • Comes with stems intact
  • Comes immersed in syrup
  • Can be stored in refrigerator for a long time
  • Beautifully packaged in glass container

Cons:

  • Customers have complained of a broken seal and leaking container
  • Expensive brand

2. Dirty Sue Whisky Cherries – A Classic Choice for Whisky Lover

Dirty Sue Whisky Cocktail Cherries

If you too, like me, like to use your cocktail cherries not just for drinks and cocktails, but for everything else, then you definitely need this 6-pack set of the finest cherries.

Make sense?

Affordable and delicious, these sour cherries have been especially marketed for whiskey lovers, but you can also use them in desserts and cocktails.

Sound’s impressive, isn’t it?

The cherries in this pack from Dirty Sue are grown in the Pacific Northwest part of United States. Each of these are 16-ounce packs of whiskey cherries to garnish your drinks, desserts and cocktails. For the best cherries for Manhattans and Old-Fashioneds, you can definitely try this particular brand of cherries.

But wait – there’s more.

For use as bar cherries for the popular cocktail drinks or something special that you have crafted yourself, these are great all-natural best cocktail cherries in deep red color. These cherries are gluten-free and had been especially crafted by bartenders, both for other bartenders and home cocktail drink enthusiasts.

Pros:

  • Affordable set of 6-pack cherries
  • Immersed in delicious syrup
  • Perfect for Old-Fashioned and Manhattans
  • All-natural cherries
  • Gluten-free
  • Crafted by professional bartenders
  • Cherries grown in the US Pacific Northwest

Cons:

  • 6-pack set, only for people who use the cherries regularly
  • Not for infrequent use

3. Mess Hall Cocktail Co. Cherries- Best Cherries for Manhattan Cocktail

Mess Hall Cocktail Co. Cherries

This 9.5-ounce container of cocktail cherries are made especially for crafted cocktails, but also for other dessert recipes of your choice.

Yes, you read that right.

They are also great for serving with your cheese plate, which is a favorite snack of mine. The cherries in this pack comes from the Great Lakes region of the United States, and contains a hint of cinnamon, peppercorn, rose, vanilla bean and bourbon. So, you can taste something more than just the sweet taste of cherries in these containers.

Let’s be honest:

These are Michigan cherries that are extremely sweet, and they come immersed in a syrup that is also sweet and contain hints of other spices.

But here’s the interesting thing……

Natural in taste, texture and color, these cherries have nothing artificial in them; they will add a special taste to your Manhattans, Old-Fashioneds and other craft cocktails, and also your ice creams, cakes and cupcakes, and other desserts.

Pros:

  • Grown in the Great Lakes area of the United States
  • Made especially for craft cocktails
  • Can also be served with desserts, ice cream, cakes and cheese
  • Comes immersed in sweet syrup
  • Syrup contains a hint of rose, cinnamon, vanilla mean, peppercorn and bourbon
  • Natural taste, color and texture

Cons:

  • Not whole cherries; comes in parts and with cracks
  • Tastes great, but doesn’t look as good in cocktail glasses

4. Dashfire Egbert’s Premium Cocktail Cherries Bulk-Most Expensive Cocktail Cherries

Dashfire Egbert’s Premium Cocktail Cherries Bulk

These cherries are quite expensive compared to the other brands available in the market, but they are worth it!

Here’s the kicker:

They are extremely sweet, and will give you a rich and flavorful texture and taste. They aren’t exactly like Maraschino cherries either, but a close substitute of the cherries I love the most.

These cherries come immersed in a delicious syrup, which also comes with a hint of warm fall-themed spices. They are the best cherries for Old-Fashioneds, Manhattans or any vermouth, whiskey and brandy-based cocktail that you want to make at home.

Pros:

  • Comes immersed in delicious syrup
  • Syrup mixed in fall spices
  • Rich and flavorful taste, texture and color
  • Perfect for Manhattans and Old-Fashioneds
  • Can be used in any whiskey, vermouth and brandy-based cocktails
  • Close substitute of Maraschino cocktail cherries

Cons:

  • Quite expensive

5. Fabbri Amarena Cherries Cocktail- Best Cherries for Old Fashioned Cocktail

Fabbri Amarena Cherries Cocktail

I am not sure what I love most about this – the delicious cherries or the gorgeous container they come in.

That’s right!

Each pack has 8.1-ounce worth of cherries and syrup in them, and the cherries are perfectly ripened and pitted.

These cherries are not just for your favorite drinks and cocktails; you can serve them with ice cream and custards, and as decoration on top of cakes and cupcakes. These  cherries are also perfect for Manhattans and Old-Fashioneds, as well as any other kinds of cocktails.

Bingo!

These are pitted cherries that are mostly whole, with a rich texture that’s firm, sweet and deep red in color. The container the cherries come in is absolutely stunning as well, made of plastic covered glass. This is definitely a container you’ll want to reuse later when empty; I know I would.

Pros:

  • 8-ounce containers of luxardo cherries
  • Comes immersed in syrup
  • Perfect for drinks, cocktails, desserts, cakes and ice creams
  • Best for Old-Fashioneds
  • Gorgeous plastic covered clear glass container
  • Perfectly ripened, soft and pitted cherries

Cons:

  • Contains very small-sized cherries
  • Extra sweet artificially-flavored syrup
  • Too sweet to eat raw
  • Makes cocktails sweet
  • Very expensive

6. Peureux Griottines Cherries – Finest Cherries for Liquor and Brandy

Peureux Griottines Cherries

Looking at these pretty little jars, you won’t know if they contain the best luxardo cherries or very expensive night cream.

At 14.1-ounce weight, each of these containers have a combination of Morello cherries, brandy and kirsch liquid. These cherries are perfect to add to your celebratory glass of champagne, home-made cocktails, Manhattans or Old-Fashioneds.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read they are Peureux cherries from Griottines, harvested and manufactured in France. Unlike the common type of cherries, these pitted cherries from Griottines are crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside.

Pros:

  • Very uncommon cherries grown, harvested and packaged from France
  • Stunning container can be reused
  • Macerated wild Morello French cherries
  • Comes immersed in brandy and kirsch liquid
  • 14.1-ounce weight
  • Perfect for serving with champagne and desserts
  • Crispy on the outside and tender on the inside
  • Best cherries for Manhattans andOld-Fashioneds
  • Pitted cherries

Cons:

  • Not enough liquid in each container
  • Heavy container with very little content inside

7. Blanton’s Bourbon Cocktail Cherries- The Fancy Cocktail Cherries

Blanton’s Bourbon Cocktail Cherries

These maraschino cherries from Blanton’s are actually Oregon cherries, which come pitted and intact with their stems. Grown, harvested and marketed from Kentucky, you get more than just cherries in these jars.

Can this really be true?

Indeed, these cocktail cherries come immersed in colored vegetable concentrate, fruit concentrate, citric acid, bourbon, cane sugar and water. The syrup that comes with these cherries are sweet enough to be used as natural sweetener in your desserts and drinks instead of sugar, that’s definitely an added bonus.

Here is the magical part:

You can use these cocktail cherries in any desserts or drinks, including Manhattans and Old-Fashioneds. They already contain Bourbon, so you’ll probably get an alcoholic kick from these cherries simply from the contents of these jars. Each jar contains 16-ounces of cherries andsyrup, including the weight of the jar.

Pros:

  • 16-ounce jars of best cocktail cherries
  • Comes immersed in syrup
  • Oregon cherries grown and harvested in Kentucky
  • Syrup is made from vegetable and fruit concentration, Bourbon, water, cane sugar and citric acid
  • Can be used as a natural sweetener
  • Pitted cherries
  • Perfect for any desserts, drinks and cocktails
  • Can be eaten straight out of the jar

Cons:

  • Heavy glass container
  • Too sweet
  • Contains bourbon; not for people who don’t drink alcohol

8. Luxardo Maraschino Cherries- Finest Dark Cocktail Cherries

Luxardo Maraschino Cherries

Finally, my favorite – original Maraschino Cocktail cherries from Italy!

The Luxardo Maraschino cherries are made from original Italian Marasca cherish which are also completely natural, perfect for your Manhattans, your Old-Fashioneds and other preferred maraschino liqueur.
Think I’m exaggerating?

I use them for my sundaes, cakes and cupcakes, as well when I need something extra on top of my ice cream scoops.

These are kosher Maraschino cherries with no trace of any added preservatives or any kind of thickening agents, artificial flavoring or color. Just the perfect taste and texture of cherries, you can use these black cocktail cherries for the flavor they can add to your desserts, or for garnish in your cocktails.

See the difference?

In each can, 50% of the content are candied cherries and the rest 50% include the syrup they come immersed in. these italian cocktail cherries are The all-natural syrup, also great to use as a sweetener, is a delicious mixture of marasca cherry juice, sugar, glucose, natural color, citric acid and natural maraschino flavor, and of course, the extract from the cherries.

Pros:

  • Original Maraschino cocktail cherries from Italy
  • 3-year shelf life
  • Doesn’t need to be refrigerated
  • Comes in a seal-tight reusable jar
  • Certified Kosher with all-natural ingredients
  • Combination of 50% candied cherries and 50% syrup content
  • Syrup made from citric acid, natural color, maraschino flavor, glucose, marasca cherry juice and water
  • Perfect for cocktails, ice cream sundaes and scoops, cakes and desserts
  • Can be eaten directly from the jar
  • Syrup can be used as a natural sweetener

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Dark-colored cherries; not bright red
  • Much too sweet
  • Cherries can become soggy and mushy over time
  • Cherries can make your cocktails and drinks sweet

9. Jack Rudy Cocktail Cherries – Cocktail Cherries Commonly Used In Bars

Jack Rudy Cocktail Cherries

This classic jar of cocktail cherries has everything you need: around 45 to 50 delicious cherries immersed in an all-natural syrup made from bourbon, fruit and vegetable concentrate, citric acid and of course, the juice from the cherries.

And guess what?

Pitted and mostly with the stems, you can use these bourbon cherries to add some flavor to your favorite cocktails and drinks, ice cream flavors and desserts. It seems like they are made from cocktail cherries recipe.

Does this sound like you?

Good enough to eat directly from the jar because they are oh-so-delicious, the syrup too can be used as a natural sweetener. They don’t need to be refrigerated, but doing so won’t hurt either; you can distinctively taste the Bourbon in the cherries even when you use them in other cocktails and desserts.

Pros:

  • More than 45 to 50 cherries in every jar
  • Comes immersed in all-natural syrup
  • Syrup made from Bourbon, citric acid, vegetable and fruit concentrate and cherry juice
  • Pitted and with stems (mostly)
  • Perfect for ice creams, Manhattans, cocktails, desserts and cakes
  • Doesn’t need to be refrigerated

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Contains Bourbon; not for people who avoid alcohol
  • Strong Bourbon taste when eaten directly
  • Cherries might have a slightly crunchy exterior

What makes luxardo cherries so good?

Outside of jars and tins, luxardo cherries are dipped in candy-apple red alley bartenders like kiddie cocktail. The luxardo is a beautiful and excellent complement to the cherry pickle mix.

The fact is, luxardo cherries are full of true fruit flavors.

The fruit has all the benefits of the infamous tart-cherries and doesn’t contain any artificial coloring. The texture of luxardo cherries is more eye-catchy. Also, it will satisfy you more than other cherries.

make sense?

Also, luxardo cherries are pickled marasca cherries that are refined in a syrup made with cherry juice and sugar. Since the syrup is thick and highly textured, you can use them as a cocktail garnish, either for slicing ice cream into pieces or use for baking purposes.

All these points are significantly crucial, and this is the reason luxardo cherries are so good.

What are the dark cherries in drinks called?

You will find many types of sweet cherries in both your nearest stores and farmer’s shops. And each of them is unique in terms of taste. The general thumb rule is that the cherry will come with more intense flavor if it becomes darker.

Among many types of cherry, Chelan cherries are one of them, which is also well-known as Dark Cherries. These types of cherries are grown in the Pacific Northwest.  And they become ripe within a short time.

This cherry type is round in shape and comes with a mild taste. Deep Mahogany color makes them an admirable food item to eat, and they are sweet in flavor. This variety is less prone to cracking due to rainfall and allows it to live longer than its counterpart.

Is a maraschino cherry a real cherry?

You might have seen Maraschino cherry in an ice cream parlor or bar, but unaware that it is Maraschino cherry.

But the question is, what are these things? Are they real cherries?

2 types of Maraschino cherries are available in the market. The first one, manufactured and marketed by the Luxardo company. According to an ancient recipe, the whole candy Marasca Cherry is preserved in syrup. In terms of taste, they are sweet, and it is a widespread belief that they don’t contain any alcohol.

The second category is the light cherry, which is a Rainier variety with Rainier flesh. A solution of sulfur dioxide and calcium chloride is used to preserve light cherries. This solution makes these cherries entirely white. After that, they are sodden into faux coloring and flavoring, as well as food coloring.

How long can Cherries last in alcohol?

When the discussion comes about preserving food, we usually think of fermenting, freezing, or dehydrating. But do you know you can preserve cherries in alcohol? Are you wrinkling your eyes to learn the question? No worries, let me make you clear by answering.

what’s next?

After soaking cherries in alcohol, make sure you close the lid tightly. And then keep it in the refrigerator. Following the process, you can preserve cherries at least for 1-year. And within this period, no damage will happen to the cherries for sure.

Once you soaked cherries into alcohol, the cherries will become drunken cherries. And the alcohol will become flavorful. Most importantly, you can use these cherries to add vibe to your cocktail, sauces, or deserts. Generally, luxardo cherries are the best cherries for cocktails. However, don’t you think it is a great way to preserve cherry?

My Verdict

Although you have many options for cocktail cherries these days – both expensive and affordable brands, there’s a reason everyone prefers a Maraschino cherry in their Manhattan or Old-Fashioned.
Wondering why?

These are just the perfect size, shape, color and texture for cherries that you’d want in your favorite drinks at the end of the day because they will give your cocktails a unique taste unlike anything else.

Personally, I have always liked Maraschino cherries for myself, for my self-made cocktails, home-made ice cream or cakes, and the Luxardo Maraschino Cherries have always been my brand of choice.

Chao!

Joe Carrow
 

Product reviewer & passionate blogger. Beside writing for this blog, I spend my time crafting research based contents for HuffingtonPost, Lifehacker & Forbes!

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