10 Maraschino Liqueur Cocktails and How To Use It

10 Maraschino Liqueur Cocktails and How To Use It

If you’ve ever looked through Prohibition-era recipes, you’ll find a common ingredient: maraschino liqueur. This liqueur, commonly sold in a Luxardo branded red-capped, straw-swathed bottle, was likely first distilled by monks on the Dalmatian coast in the 1600s. Originally sipped like a digestif, it made its way into cocktail recipes in the 1800s. 

But what is this maraschino liqueur? Maraschino liqueur is made from Marasca cherries from Croatia. The juice, crushed pits, leaves, and branches are infused into a base spirit creating a clear liqueur with notes of vanilla, cherry, and almond. Unlike the saccharinely sweet maraschino cherries, maraschino liqueur is dry with only a hint of sweetness.

These days, maraschino liqueur is rarely drunk on its own. The complex flavor can be substituted for simple syrup or other fruit liqueurs if you’re looking for a cocktail that is more tart than sweet. It’s often added by the teaspoon or tablespoon, the liqueur’s strong flavors balancing the other ingredients without overpowering them. A few recipes, like the Last Word, highlight the spirit. However you prefer drinking the liqueur, here are ten maraschino cocktail recipes to get you started.

1. Bushwick

Bushwick Cocktail With Rye Whiskey Sweet Vermouth Maraschino Liqueur And Amer Picon
Photo by @Guido Martini

A riff on the cocktails named after New York boroughs: Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Red Hook, the Bushwick combines classic flavors of rye and sweet vermouth with a twist from the maraschino liqueur and Amer Picon or Amaro Lucano.

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2. Perfect Martini

Perfect Martini Cocktail
Photo by @Maurese

The perfectly balanced flavor is what gave the Perfect Martini its name. As a variation on the Martinez, it has more vermouth than gin, combining both sweet and dry vermouth with gin, maraschino liqueur, and Angostura bitters.

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3. Division Bell

Division Bell Cocktail With Mezcal Aperol Amaro Maraschino Liqueur And Lime Juice
Photo by @Nananafuzimi

The experimental Division Bell combines mezcal, Aperol, maraschino liqueur, and lime juice for a modern take on the Last Word and Naked and Famous cocktails. The smoky and bitter-sweet flavors create a maraschino liqueur cocktail you won’t forget.

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4. Illegal Cocktail

Illegal Cocktail
Photo by @Bhofack2

Complex, smoky, and citrus, there’s nothing particularly illicit about the Illegal Cocktail. The combination of mezcal, white rum, falernum, maraschino liqueur, lime juice, simple syrup, and egg white should stop flying under the popular cocktail radar, though.

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5. Casino

Casino Cocktail
Photo by @alpaksoy

Reminiscent of an Aviation cocktail, the Casino cocktail is a pre-prohibition concoction. Made with gin, maraschino liqueur, lemon juice, and orange bitters, it’s an easygoing drink to mix up at home.

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6. Hemingway Daiquiri

Hemingway Daiquiri
Photo by @Bhofack2

Created by the famous author, the Hemingway Daiquiri is made with white rum, maraschino liqueur, lime juice, and grapefruit juice. The story goes that in Cuba, Hemingway asked for the Floridita’s signature daiquiri with no sugar and double the rum. The result was this daiquiri riff.

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7. Tuxedo No. 2

Tuxedo No. 2 Cocktail With Absinthe Gin Maraschino Liqueur Blanc Vermouth And Orange Bitters
Photo by @AlexPro9500

The Tuxedo No. 2 is a Martini variation that adds flavor to the original with an absinthe rinse, London dry gin, blanc vermouth, maraschino liqueur, and orange bitters. It’s almost as old as the original Tuxedo since the No. 2 was created in 1900.

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8. Improved Whiskey Cocktail

Improved Whiskey Cocktail
Photo by @SawBear

Adding absinthe, maraschino liqueur, Peychaud’s, and Angostura bitters to a whiskey base is what bartenders of the 1880s called an Improved Whiskey Cocktail. Today, this maraschino cocktail drinks much like a riff on the Old Fashioned.

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9. Last Word

Last Word Cocktail
Photo by @Bhofack2

The pre-prohibition cocktail highlights the use of maraschino liqueur in cocktails of the era. Made with gin, green Chartreuse, lime juice, and maraschino liqueur, it inspired many other cocktails, including the mezcal riff, Ultima Palabra.

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10. Mary Pickford

Mary Pickford Cocktail
Photo by @Bhofack2

Named after the Canadian-American silent film actress, the Mary Pickford cocktail has dubious origins in Cuba. It’s made with white rum, pineapple juice, grenadine, and maraschino liqueur and is easily altered to your taste. Make without rum for a low-alcoholic beverage, or subdue the sweetness with a squeeze of lime.

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