Cherry Season Is Over But Cherry Gin Season Is Just Getting Started
It’s fair to say that no player in the cocktail world knows cherries better than Luxardo. The family-owned Italian company created Luxardo Maraschino liqueur—an essential ingredient in a number of classic cocktails, including the Aviation and the Martinez. Luxardo also makes our very favorite cocktail cherries, and a richer, fruitier cherry liqueur known as Sangue Morlacco.
So when Luxardo announced a brand new Sour Cherry Gin, you’d better believe we sat up and took notice. Flavored spirits aren’t always our favorites—birthday cake vodka, we’re looking at you—but the Luxardo comes by its cherry flavor honestly.
It’s made from a base of London Dry gin that Luxardo produces, with a classic array of botanicals (juniper, coriander, angelica root, bitter orange). From there, it’s infused with Luxardo’s Marasca cherry juice. The result, just a little shy of 80 proof, is just like it sounds: gin first and foremost, but with juicy fruit backing it up.
There’s no doubt it’ll blend beautifully with classic maraschino liqueur, and any of these drinks could be garnished with a Luxardo cherry—but we were curious to play around with the cherry gin, no cherries required. Here are our three favorite drinks.
Easy: Marasca Martini
We thought that the sour cherry gin might be just a bit intense for a classic martini. Our solution? Something of a martini-Vesper hybrid -- the sour cherry gin cut with vodka and mellowed by bianco vermouth (brighter and more aromatic than dry vermouth, less rich than sweet vermouth). The result still has the prominent flavors of cherry and gin, in an oh-so-sippable form. Feel free to serve this up, but we like it on the rocks.
Instructions: In a mixing glass with ice, combine an ounce and a half of sour cherry gin, 3/4 ounce of vodka, and 3/4 ounce of bianco vermouth. Add a dash of orange bitters. Stir until very well-chilled. Strain into a rocks glass over ice. Garnish with a big twist of lemon peel—twisting over the surface of the drink to spray its citrus oils all over.
Intermediate: Cherry Collins
Take cherry and gin; add lemon and soda. It’s a no-brainer. Refreshing, easy-drinking, and just ginny enough.
Instructions: In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine an ounce and a half of sour cherry gin, half an ounce of fresh lemon juice, and half an ounce of simple syrup. Shake until well-chilled, then strain into a tall glass with fresh ice. Top with two ounces of club soda, stir briefly, and garnish with a few lemon wheels.
Advanced: Cherry Sour
We love gin sours with egg white, which softens the rough edges of certain flavors and contributes a rich, silky texture. It’s a perfect format for the sour cherry gin, where both the cherry and botanical flavors are nicely mellowed.
Instructions: In a cocktail shaker without ice, combine two ounces of sour cherry gin, an ounce of fresh lemon juice, 1/2 ounce simple syrup, and one egg white. Shake all that up without ice to aerate it — that’s called a “dry shake” — and then add ice and shake again for a “wet shake,” to chill it down. Strain into a chilled coupe, and garnish with a lemon triangle.