Whether it’s a spiked Shirley Temple or a classic Manhattan, a cherry garnish is the perfect way to add pop of color to a cocktail—it’s also a convenient post-drink snack. But not all cherries are created equal. Some are DayGlo red and covered in a sticky, syrupy slime—they will ruin your cocktail. Do not use those cherries. Instead, make your own or pick up a jar of one of these high quality options. Your stomach (and your drink) will thank you.
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The ubiquitous Maraschino cherries found on supermarket shelves contain more red dye #40 than actual fruit. Opt instead for Luxardo Maraschino Cherries ($25 for a 14 oz jar). Luxardo uses actual Marasca cherries from Italy, which are soaked in the company’s Maraschino liqueur along with sugar for a richly dark and sweet, only slightly boozy treat.
If you’d rather keep your booze in your glass and leave it out of your fruit garnishes, Toschi candied black sour cherries ($18 for 18 oz) make a great alternative to Maraschino. For an even tarter cherry, try Fabbri’s version ($14 for 8 oz), made with wild Amarena cherries.
In the summer, pop by your local green market for a bushel of fresh, all-natural cherries to drop into drinks. Look for high quality Rainier cherries, or grab some sour cherries for a surprising, tart twist on the classic garnish.