I first heard about Maraschino liqueur around the time Katie an I started dating back in…well, a long time ago. We had to special order it from BevMo, and were very excited when it arrived. Our tastes in beverages being significantly less developed back then, we were both imagining something akin to alcoholic syrup from a jar of Maraschino cherries. Fortunately, in the long run, Maraschino is a much more sophisticated creature. But at the time, we were aghast. And disgusted. It was not good.
But it is good, as we eventually learned. It’s a masterful (although rarely subtle) addition to many a classic cocktail. It doesn’t really taste of cherries, although it is made from them. I’m not sure how to describe the flavor – sort of bitter, sort of sweet, sort of earthy. It hails from the Dalmatian coast of what was once Yugoslavia. I could look up what it is now – Serbia or Bosnia or something, but whatever. Croatia? Meh.
This one, from the Savoy Cocktail Book, is called the Blue Devil because it’s supposed to be blue; the recipe calls for a dash of “blue vegetable extract” – or, today, I suppose, blue food coloring. We skipped this step. Because, well, why blue? Maybe we should just call it the Devil?
1/4 lemon juice*
Shake with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
I used an ounce of lemon juice and Maraschino, and two ounces of gin. Maraschino is usually included in much smaller increments, often one or a few dashes, sometimes a teaspoon, occasionally a 1/4 oz. Rarely is there this much, and I was a little worried it would be overpowering. But my fears were unfounded. The gin flavor was mostly subsumed by an almost equal mixture of lemon and Maraschino flavors. This turned out to be one of the rare cocktails where Katie’s reaction was different than mine. I thought it wonderful, she merely good. So, four and a half livers.
*The recipe actually said lemon OR lime juice. I went with lemon because, although there is significantly more Maraschino in this recipe, it is otherwise quite similar to the Aviation, a well-known classic cocktail that I quite enjoy. The lime would probably make quite a difference though; we’ll try that soon.