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  • Writer's pictureJohn B. Reyna

Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, Not a Shirley Temple Cherry

Updated: Jun 8, 2020

Until the last few years, if I saw anything labeled maraschino cherries, then I'd be ready for bright red, syrupy cherries. Yuck, I only liked these as a kid. My life changed for the better when I was introduced to Luxardo maraschino liqueur. No sugary nonsense here. It's not even in the same universe.

First, there are several maraschino liqueur options. However, most are attempted replications of the gold standard, Luxardo. It been produced by the same family since 1817. Mr. Luxardo was a diplomat from Genova, Italy, living in Zara, now the Croatian city of Zadar. His wife, Maria, began playing with the local recipe for “rosolio maraschino,” a cherry liqueur produced in Dalmatian convents since medieval times. The distillery began production in 1821, only a few years later, as the popularity quickly grew with those in the area and beyond.

The family built a modern and massive distillery in 1913, surviving WWI, but was bombed down in WWII. However, Giorgio Luxardo, of the 4th generation, escaped with only a cherry sapling to Luxardo’s current home, the Veneto coast in the northeast Italy. There he reconnected with a colleague who had preserved the recipe and rebuilt the business from scratch.

The family owns 30,000 marasca sour cherry trees, making it the only significant cherry orchard in the European Union. The family grows most of their own fruit here on the complementing volcanic soil. The recipe includes 3 years of aging and totals 4 years to complete.

It has a nutty complexity to it, with flavors of vanilla, strawberry, and orange marmalade behind the cherry bark. Not only are cherries used for this recipe, but the branches and leaves of the plant are also distilled giving the woody almond flavor. Most of the work is done in-house with 45 employees. About 2/3 of Luxardo’s products are exported to 70 different countries around the world.

Also, Luxardo is the producer of the original maraschino cherry garnish. Proper dark red Maraschino cherries were produced by the family starting in the late 1800s, and anything soaked in grenadine is a cheap knock off.

Though the recipe is a mystery to non-family members, Luxardo has shared it differs from the “rosolio maraschino” because it is missing the name-sake rose petals. Still coming in the bamboo wrapped bottle (protection for the worldly traveler), maraschino liqueur is a staple in many classic cocktails. Previously, you have seen us make the Martinez and the Last Word. Today we will make two more, the Aviation and Hemingway Daiquiri.

First, the Aviation is the color of the most beautiful sky in existence. Florally goodness in this periwinkle cocktail first recorded in 1916’s Recipes for Mixed drinks. Also, another cocktail that convinced me gin was amazing in my early gin drinking days.


2oz gin

3/4oz lemon juice

1/2oz Luxardo Maraschino liqueur

1/4oz Crème de violet (preferably Rothman and Winter)

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake. Strain into a chilled coupe.

Next, John makes a Hemingway Daiquiri. Originally called Daiquiri number 4, it is unproven Earnest Hemingway actually drank this more than most. However, the re-branding definitely got more people ordering it to feel brilliant. It came out in a La Florida’s House cocktail book in 1937 with the new name. By 1947, it had doubled in size, gotten more grapefruit juice, been renamed the Papa Doble and become Hemingway’s favorite cocktail.

Hemingway Daiquiri

2oz white rum

3/4oz lime juice

1/2oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur

1/2oz grapefruit juice

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake. Strain into a chilled coupe.

Such a light and refreshing summer drink!

Luxardo always adds a brightness to a cocktail and your day. So put the Shirley Temple down, and try real maraschino cherry deliciousness. 😊

Sending 6 generations of love,















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