Life slows down just enough this time of year to revive the long-neglected cocktail hour. This week we’re drinking a seasonal interpretation of the Old-Fashioned, whose key ingredient is homemade maraschino cherries. I promise these maraschinos are nothing like the food product you know and love, the one with the nuclear glow. Made from scratch, these are a lovely mix of sweet, spicy, and tangy; I’ve watched full-grown adults eat them straight from the jar. Save a few to muddle with slices of orange and a dash of bitters, stir in bourbon and club soda to taste, a slug of maraschino juice, and you’ve got a cocktail that looks and tastes like summer itself.
Recipe: Maraschino Cherries
A dozen large cherries, pitted / ½ cup water / ¼ cup sugar / 3 tbls grape juice concentrate / 1 large star anise / 1 generous strip fresh orange peel / pinch salt / juice of 1 lemon / dash of almond extract
While preparing the cherries, boil water in a small saucepan, stir in sugar and dissolve, then turn heat down. Add grape juice, star anise, orange peel, lemon juice, and salt and simmer for 5 minutes. Add cherries and almond extract. Cook gently for another 5 minutes, then cool and pour into a glass jar; these are better after curing for a day or two; they stay good for weeks, refrigerated. Adapted from Nick Mautone.