Spirits Closeup: Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur

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Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur // Photo by Kevin Kramer, The Growler

 

This month’s Craft Cocktail: Aviation at Red Rabbit, uses Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur for a bit of sweetness. Here are some additional uses for the liqueur you can try at home.

You want me to buy a $30 bottle of cherry liqueur? That’s what I pay for bourbon! I hear you. But that straw-wrapped bottle looks great on your bar, and it’ll last you a long time. You’ll only use Luxardo a quarter-ounce at a time. I got a bottle in 2012 and I’m only halfway through it.

How do you say it? mer-a-SKEE-no.

Those bright red cocktail cherries have the same name—are they related? No. Luxardo is distilled from marasca cherries, and not artificially flavored like many liqueurs. The cocktail cherries are usually some other variety, soaked in a brine and then food coloring, and sold as “maraschino.”

What does Luxardo taste like? It’s sticky and sweet, but it has layers—a hint of alcohol burn, some vanilla- and almond-like sweetness in the background of the cherry fruit, and a slight bitter turn at the end that’s like licking a cherry pit. The general effect it has on a cocktail is a background jolt of brightness.

What can I make besides an aviation?

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Aviation at Red Rabbit is Februarys Craft Cocktail // Photo by Kevin Kramer, The Growler

Daiquiri: Try 2 ounces white rum, ¾ ounce simple syrup, ¾ ounce lime juice, and ¼ ounce Luxardo. Shake like hell and strain into a coupe glass. Luxardo is great in anything tiki-like—if a drink has rum and citrus, add a dash and see what happens.

Martinez: 2 ounces gin, 1 ounce sweet vermouth, ¼ ounce Luxardo, a few dashes each of orange and aromatic bitters. Stir and strain into a coupe glass. Use a sweeter gin, or at least one not so juniper-forward. Plymouth- or Old Tom–style gins are especially good.

Old Fashioned: Adding a barspoon of Luxardo is a great addition to a classic old fashioned. If you add dashes of Luxardo and absinthe, and a big lemon peel to your old fashioned, you’re making what’s called an Improved Whiskey Cocktail.

Crusta: The grandfather of the modern sour, the crusta has just enough sweetness to offset a slug of spirit. Try 1½ ounces brandy with a ½ ounce each orange liqueur and lemon juice, and ¼ ounce Luxardo, shaken and strained into a cocktail glass with sugar on the rim.

 
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John Garland About John Garland

John Garland is the Senior Editor at the Growler Magazine. Find him on twitter (@johnpgarland) or in real life at various bar patios in South Minneapolis.