Cherry Garnishes


When making quality cocktails they often come with a cherry garnish. There are many types of preserved cherries and these Griottines/Luxardo Maraschino are the main types used to garnish a drink at a respectable bar.

Remember those bright red maraschino (Marr-a-skee-noh) cherries used in cakes and in low-end tiki drinks? Those are typically made from Royal Ann, Rainier, or Gold varieties. They are soaked in a brine containing sulfur dioxide and calcium chloride to remove its natural colour and flavouring. Then they are pitted and soaked in a sweetener for about a month. After that, they are dipped red dye to produce that bright red colour. Originally, Maraschino Cherries were actually made with Marasca cherries from Croatia; which are also used to produce Maraschino Liqueurs.


Now onto the main feature.

Luxardo Maraschino Cherries – These are gourmet cherries. Each jar is 50% Candied Cherries and 50% syrup. There are no thickening agents or preservatives used.
A 400g bottle will typically cost you around $25 in Vancouver. I believe you can buy them from The Modern Bartender(28 East Pender).

Griottines – These are brandied cherries. Made from Morello cherries grown in the Balkans. Handpicked and soaked in Kirsch (Cherry Brandy) and Sugar. A 1 litre jar as pictured above will cost you about $35-40. I picked mine up from The Gourmet Warehouse on Hastings.

Amarena – I have no clue where to purchase these in Vancouver. However, I have tried them before and they are amazing. I’d probably favour these over the Griottines. They are slightly larger than the Griottines and are a little more tart. From what I know, they are made in Italy. From Wikipedia, I learned that it’s an Italian cherry grown in Bolgona and Modena regions of Italy.


Remember to use quality cherries in your drinks. Use real cherries if you have to. Just make sure to keep those crappy bright red Maraschino cherries out of your delicious drink!



Flower Water

Here are the flower water I used in my previous recipes. Rose Water (Left) and Orange Flower Water (Right)

These bottles can be purchased at your local Middle Eastern or Indian Grocery stores.

I bought these from Yek-o-Yek at 3046 Main Street for under $4 a bottle. There are other brands but I think Cortas is more well known.

They are very pungent liquids so usually a few drops is enough for your drink.


Syrups are important ingredients to sweeten up your drink and add hints of flavours. It’s also for convenience too. For example, the old fashion cocktail. Traditionally it calls for a single sugar cube, however it would take time to muddle it down and the sugar would not be completely liquefied.

Simple Syrup

  • 1 Part Sugar
  • 1 Part Hot Water
  • Mix and store in refrigerator

Rich Simple Syrup

  • 2 Parts Sugar
  • 1 Part Hot Water
  • Mix and store in refrigerator

Lemon/Lime Mix (Bar Mix)

  • 1 Part Sugar
  • 1 Part Hot Water
  • 1 Part Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1 Part Fresh Lime Juice

Cocktail Bitters

When you start using bitters, you’re venturing into the complex world of awesome aromas.

What are they? Bitters are made with herbs and have a bittersweet flavour. Ingredients usually include cascarilla, cassia, gentian, orange peel, and quinine and then the flavouring specified on the bottle. These bitters are typically around 45% ABV. Even though they contain a lot of alcohol, don’t try drinking this stuff straight up. You’ll probably throw up. That’s not to say you can’t sample the taste. It’s a very concentrated flavour though.

Price: Roughly $7-9 a bottle. Each bottle will last a very long time as you typically use a few drops at a time.

Brands: There’s too many brands to be listed here. Also these can be homemade. Most commonly you’ll be looking at Angostura, Fee Brothers, Peychaud, and Bittermens.

Where to buy: You can buy the basic Angostura bitters (on the left) from almost any supermarket. I bought mine from Safeway. Once you start getting more advanced bitters, they are harder to find. I bought these Fee Brothers bitters from Gourmet Warehouse on 1340 E. Hastings. Fee brothers have many flavors (aromatic, orange, mint, lemon, rhubarb, cherry and peach, etc). Then again, you can always order these online.

Angostura and Peychaud Bitters are both gentian-based bitters. Peychaud is considered to similar to Angostura but with a lighter body, sweeter taste, and more floral aroma.

Use: Experiment! I just bought these Fee Brother bitters and I’ll be trying them with many cocktails. The three Fee Brothers bitters will be used in the Cubed Old Fashion which I’ll be making soon enough!

Try this out: For the Whiskey Sour recipe I posted previously, try making it without the bitters. Taste it. Then put the Angostura bitters in, stir and sample. You’ll notice a big difference in flavour with those 3 drops.


Tips and Tricks

This is a section that I will be adding to over time. It will be in it’s own little category so you can check it once in a while.

  • There is no substitute for fresh fruit juice. Especially with Lemons and Limes.
  • When muddling, you want to gently press and twist rather than trying to break apart the ingredient.
  • For drinks that contain fruit juice, or cream based liqueurs. You’ll generally want to shake it because they don’t mix as well with alcohol. Shaking breaks down the ice quicker than stirring so you’ll want to shake roughly 10-15 seconds.
  • For drinks that only contain alcohol, you’ll want to just stir it. For example, a martini. You don’t want to “bruise” the drink. You’ll roughly want to stir for 20-30 seconds, but this really depends. Always taste to perfection.
  • Liquor vs Liqueur – “Licker vs Li-Koor”. Liqueur has at least 2.5% sugar by volume, liquor has less than 2.5%. (Found this stat somewhere online). Liquors are Gins, Whiskeys, Vodkas, etc. Liqueurs are your Creme de Cacao, Frangelico, Triple sec, etc. You can tell because Liqueurs are usually quite sweet.
  • Egg whites: When using egg whites, you’ll always want to do a dry shake before adding ice and reshaking it to chill the drink. By dry shaking you allow the egg white to “emulsify” with the drink