Maraschino Liqueur Substitute: (Everything You Need to Know)

When you think of maraschino, you’re probably thinking of cherries. But there’s also such a thing as maraschino liqueur, a famous liqueur you can find in classic cocktail recipes, desserts, and as a base in Italian recipes.

What happens when you don’t have any of this famous liqueur at home? If you’re handling dessert or cocktail recipes needing this liqueur, we can help you out.

Read on to learn about the best maraschino liqueur substitutes!

How’s Maraschino Liqueur Made?

Maraschino isn’t the typical sweet liqueur. The maraschino production is similar to brandy, but marasca cherries’ pits, or stones, are included with its fruits.

As a result, we get a slightly bitter almond flavor to the dry and clear spirit. Think of it as how amaretto naturally brings its almond taste, as it’s made from apricot pits.

Maraschino liqueur’s modern production process would widely vary by the one creating it. Generally, maraschino liqueur is made through macerating crushed marasca cherries, including the pits, in alcohol.

For instance, Luxardo would infuse marasca cherries in alcohol in larch wood vats for three years. Both solids and liquids will be distilled in copper pot stills, while the middle of the distillate containing clean flavor rests in wooden vats made from ash.

The mixture is then blended with simple syrup, reducing it to bottling strength.

You can find distilleries including other cherry varieties and ingredients like honey, herbs, or spices. That’s why you’ll discover flavor differences among different brands.

Usually, maraschino liqueurs have an alcohol content of 32% or 64 proof. (*)

What Is a Good Substitute for Maraschino Liqueur?

image of Best Maraschino Liqueur Substitute

Maraschino liqueur is a staple in many bars as it adds a cherry taste to drinks without overwhelming the flavor of other ingredients.

We understand if you can’t find any maraschino liqueur, as some countries don’t have this drink readily available. Don’t worry; you can still find a substitute for maraschino liqueur without negatively altering your recipe’s flavor.

Try any of these options:

1. Kirsch

It isn’t easy to replace maraschino liqueur’s unique taste. However, you can still get similar fruity flavors from substitutes like Kirsch.

Kirsch, a cherry-flavored brandy, is a good substitute for maraschino liqueur as it’s distilled from cherries.

Fun fact: Kirsch means “cherry” in German. It’s a cherry brandy with nutty, oaky, and sweet flavors that go well with autumn drinks.

Kirsch is a clear liqueur made from distilling morello cherries. Usually, Kirsch has a sour taste, but distilleries are incorporating other cherries to create this liqueur, too.

While cherry liqueur is usually sweet, Kirsch is sourer and tangier. That’s because, like maraschino liqueur, this cherry brandy is fermented with whole morello cherries, including the pits.

As a result, you have a unique cherry and a slight almondy buttery flavor. Use this cherry brandy to substitute maraschino liqueurs in cocktails.

You can also use other cherry brandy brands if you don’t have Kirsch available in your area.

2. Cherry Heering

Cherry Heering is a famous drink that offers a cherry taste, with many considering it as cherry brandy. It originates in Denmark, made from neutral grain alcohol, Stevens cherries, and various spices.

As a result, you get a royal red beverage that offers one of the best flavors among other cherry-flavored liqueur brands.

While we appreciate the royal red color from Cherry Heering, it may alter the appearance of your recipe.

Fun fact: Bartenders worldwide use Cherry Heering as a base for famous cocktails, like the Singapore Sling!

Also, do note that Cherry Heering is sweeter than maraschino liqueur. Check the label and make sure you get a bottle labeled “true brandy.” Without that true brandy label, this cherry-flavored brandy may be overly sweet.

3. Amaretto

Amaretto is a golden liqueur originating from Saronno, Italy. This sweet liqueur is mixed with sour cherries, giving it a bitter and dry taste with nutty and sweet notes.

It comes in many flavors, including apricots, almonds, peaches, and cherry notes. Because of that, the unique taste resembles maraschino!

You can use amaretto in iconic drinks and desserts to substitute maraschino.

4. Port Wine

Port wine has a spicy aroma with a sweet and nutty taste. This lovely red wine is a good substitute for any cocktail or dessert.

We recommend using Rose or Ruby Port wine among all the port wine flavors available. These have the sweetness of cinnamon, caramel, chocolate, raspberry, and strawberry.

Plus, the chocolate and berry taste is different flavor profiles, so you get a combination of bitter, sweet, and rich, resembling maraschino.

5. Cherry-Flavored Vodka

You can also opt for vodka, which comes in many different flavors. You’re bound to find this cherry liqueur in your local store.

We recommend the cherry liqueur from Absolut, enhancing vodka’s bland taste. It has a 40% ABV with a slight plum and cranberry flavor.

Since it isn’t overly sweet but has a mild tart flavor, you’ll find it a suitable substitute, especially if you’re a vodka lover.

If you’re not a fan of cherry liqueur, you can always opt for other fruity liqueur.

We recommend orange liqueurs like Grand Marnier or Cointreau, among other fruits and flavors. It has a different taste and won’t have a similar bitter almond finish, but it does well in many cocktails or cherry-flavored drinks.

BONUS: Make Your Own Maraschino Liqueur

If you’re not in a hurry, you can also create your own cherry liqueur.

Ingredients:

  • 24 ounces cherries
  • 750ml vodka with 40% ABV
  • 10 ounces sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar or cane syrup

Directions:

  1. Remove the cherry pits with a pitter and place all the cherries in a large glass jar.
  2. Pour in your vodka and sugar. Shake the jar to dissolve the sugar properly.
  3. Tighten the lid and leave your mixture in a cool, dark area for two months.
  4. Strain the solids of your mixture with a cheesecloth or coffee filter. Add another half cup of cane syrup or sugar syrup.
  5. Store it in the cool, dry area again for another 2-3 months.

Non-Alcoholic Maraschino Liqueur Substitutes

Not everyone likes alcohol or would instead do without it, and that’s okay!

You can use a non-alcoholic substitute that still has that slightly sweet flavor and cherry notes for many classic cocktail recipes (or should we say mocktails?).

Whether you’re making a mocktail or an alcohol-free dessert, choose the best maraschino liqueur substitute from these ingredients:

6. Cherry Syrup

The cherry syrup is an excellent substitute for maraschino desserts for your family and children. It’s also very accessible and easy to find, as you can find it in grocery stores from the baking aisle.

The cherry syrup is dark red, like cherry, and with a thick consistency. It has an intense sweetness and a sharp sour taste when tasting it alone.

If you can find marasca syrup, then better! This gives your recipe a more authentic flavor, almost similar to maraschino liqueur.

Just make sure you read the label and confirm you are getting a non-alcoholic version of the syrup.

Alternatively, you can make your own cherry or marasca syrup yourself. You can use the liquid from canned cherries in your desserts if necessary.

Opt for natural, organic syrup without preservatives or added sugars. Since cherry syrup has sugar, you may need to alter the amount of sugar the original recipe calls for.

7. Cherry Extract

For those who want a non-alcoholic substitute but still want to capture the maraschino liqueur taste, then the cherry extract is your next best bet. This ingredient has a thick consistency with an intense flavor of cherries.

That said, it doesn’t possess particular characteristics maraschino liqueur has, such as the dry and bitter taste. Since the cherry extract is concentrated, start with a few drops and taste test, adding more until you reach the desired flavor.

If needed, dissolve a few drops of cherry extract in water to add moisture to your dish and loosen the flavor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have more questions about maraschino liqueur? Learn more about it in our frequently asked questions:

2. Does maraschino liqueur come from marasca cherries?

Yes, maraschino liqueur is made of marasca cherries, which originates from the Dalmatian coast of Croatia.

3. What does maraschino liqueur taste like?

Maraschino liqueur is clear from the outside. Expect a dry and bitter flavor from the liqueur with a slightly sweet cherry flavor note and almond undertone. It’s not overly sweet but has a bitter taste that many appreciate.

It tastes delicious, so you can consume it on its own, either served straight or on the rocks. We recommend using it as a digestif.

With its unique flavor, you can use maraschino liqueur in many classic cocktails like the Club, Hemingway, Singapore Sling, or Avion. It also pairs well with other liqueurs like brandy, gin, rum, whiskey, or fruits and herms like thyme or anise.

And because it has a cherry flavor, you can find maraschino liqueur in desserts like cakes, parfaits, candies, and tarts.

4. Is maraschino liqueur similar to cherry liqueur?

Maraschino liqueur comes from marasca cherries and isn’t artificially flavored compared to other cherry liqueurs. Cherry liqueurs are usually made from another variety, soaked in brine, with additional food coloring.

The brand manufacturing maraschino liqueur is Luxardo, owned by Girolamo Luxardo.

Fun fact: Luxardo has been in production since 1821. It’s considered the Maraschino original.

Wrapping It Up

Replacing maraschino liqueur doesn’t have to be so hard. You don’t need to spend too much money or time finding an alternative when you probably already have one at home.

We hope you found the perfect substitute for maraschino cherries liqueur from our list!

Let us know what you think about these liqueurs and non-alcoholic options and how they work with your recipe.

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