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Super Food Nerds: How to Make Maraschino Cherries

I do not like maraschino cherries. Not in a cocktail or a mocktail, not on a sundae or a parfait. Not anywhere. And I comfort myself in the knowledge that I am not alone. Some of my favorite food and drink writers have described the maraschino cherry as “an embalmed corpse” (Toby Cecchini), a “skeleton” (Harold McGee) and “undead” (Dave Wondrich). These cherries haunt critical food lovers like a sheet-wearing treats-seeker on Halloween.

We are speaking, of course, of the chemically treated, candy-sweet modern maraschino cherry. As I detailed in an earlier post, today’s maraschino cherries arose from the grave of their pre-Prohibition-era precursor: a sour cherry (the marasca, a Croatian variety) preserved in sour cherry maraschino liqueur.

In developing the Super Food Nerds maraschino cherry recipe below, I set out to exhume the lost flavors of the original — a seemingly doable task. The cocktail authority Cecchini has claimed there was nothing more to the old maraschino cherries than throwing sour cherries in a jar, covering them with maraschino liqueur and going about your business for two weeks. If Cecchini was right, this seemed like a secret everyone should be in on.

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Thirsty Thursday: White Sangria

It’s more than just alliteration; it’s a statement, a proclamation that Thursdays are when the weekend should really start. Kicking it off right is the key, and what better way than with a cocktail that not only takes the edge off, but tastes good too. 

Want to impress guests with your mixology skills? It’s all about the details. This summery fruit-loaded White Sangria proves that sangria can indeed be worthy of craft cocktail-ing.

Start by dehydrating lemon and orange zest, which you’ll grind into a fine powder. Mix sweet white port, raspberries, orange liqueur and peaches for your cocktail base. When ready to serve, rim the glasses with the zesty citrus powder, and pour in the sangria base. Add a few frozen grapes (in lieu of ice cubes), and top with bubbly.

Bottoms up, folks!

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Thirsty Thursday: Mint Julep Snow Cones

It’s more than just alliteration; it’s a statement, a proclamation that Thursdays are when the weekend should really start. Kicking it off right is the key, and what better way than with a cocktail that not only takes the edge off, but tastes good too. A hard thing to disagree with, we know. Drink up, get down and go to sleep happy.

When the 4th of July often means hot weather coupled with al fresco dining and outdoor firework gazing, a cooling summertime beverage is not only a suggestion, it’s a must! We’ve got just the cocktail to save the day: meet the Mint Julep Snow Cone, the cocktail version of your favorite childhood treat.

Muddle fresh mint leaves and sugar in silver julep cups. Top with shaved ice, pour on the bourbon, and mix the frosty concoction. Give this cocktail a positively patriotic twist by throwing a few blueberries and raspberries on top to garnish. It will be the star of your celebrations!

Bottoms up, folks.

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Thirsty Thursday: Watermelon Martinis


It’s more than just alliteration; it’s a statement, a proclamation that Thursdays are when the weekend should really start. Kicking it off right is the key, and what better way than with a cocktail that not only takes the edge off, but tastes good too. A hard thing to disagree with, we know. Drink up, get down and go to sleep happy.

Break out your blender to whip up a slushy, cooling cocktail for summer. We suggest these frozen Watermelon Martinis as a start.

First, make ice cubes out of the watermelon by pureeing the sweet fruit and then pouring it into ice cube trays. This clever technique helps to maintain the full flavor of watermelon without dilution (since watermelon is already over 90 percent water). Once the watermelon cubes are frozen, blend them with simple syrup, lemon juice, vodka and melon liqueur.

Tip: Keep extra watermelon cubes in the freezer all summer, to spruce up lemonade, sparkling water or an impromptu martini anytime.

Bottoms up, folks!

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Thirsty Thursday: Caipirinha


It’s more than just alliteration; it’s a statement, a proclamation that Thursdays are when the weekend should really start. Kicking it off right is the key, and what better way than with a cocktail that not only takes the edge off, but tastes good too. A hard thing to disagree with, we know. Drink up, get down and go to sleep happy.

The 2014 World Cup is an ideal reason to have a drink in hand, whether you’re celebrating a win or drowning your sorrows after a loss.

Brazil being the host country, we’re opting for Brazil’s national cocktail, the caipirinha. This cocktail is made with cachaça, a Brazilian distilled liquor made from fermented sugarcane juice. Simply muddle and shake with raw sugar, lime and lots of crushed ice. It’s a Brazilian classic that will keep your spirits up whether or not your team is!

Bottoms up, folks!

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Thirsty Thursday: Tequila-Spiked Watermelon Jalapeño Lemonade

It’s more than just alliteration; it’s a statement, a proclamation that Thursdays are when the weekend should really start. And what better way than with a cocktail that not only takes the edge off, but tastes good too. Here are our thoughts on how to drink up, get down and go to sleep happy.

Since you’ll likely be firing up the grill this weekend for burgers, steaks and smoky ribs (a.k.a. Dad food), try pairing this meal with a summery beverage too (a.k.a. a little something delicious for everyone)? While you’re waiting patiently for those ribs to become meltingly tender, pull up a lawn chair and slowly sip on this Watermelon Jalapeño Lemonade. Word of caution: It’s spicy, so go slowly.

This refreshing summer treat has just enough bite to make Dad love it. While pureed jalapeño adds the spicy dimension, blended watermelon sweetens the deal. Add an additional jalapeño if you dare. Though it’s best with a splash of tequila, the original version is booze-free.

Bottoms up, folks.

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Thirsty Thursday: Blueberry Ginger Mojito Pitchers


It’s more than just alliteration; it’s a statement, a proclamation that Thursdays are when the weekend should really start. Kicking it off right is the key, and what better way than with a cocktail that not only takes the edge off, but tastes good too. A hard thing to disagree with, we know. Drink up, get down and go to sleep happy.

It’s Grilling Week on Cooking Channel, so if you’re planning to have friends over for some fired-up meat, plan to mix up a pitcher of cocktails that will keep guests happy  while keeping you free to tend to the food. For something pretty, purple and party-sized, these Blueberry Ginger Mojitos should do the trick.

The ginger simple syrup adds a sweet and spicy kick, with muddled blueberries and crushed mint leaves really bringing the full flavor to the drink. This stunning take on the classic mojito takes advantage of summer berries at their peak of freshness.

Bottoms up, folks!

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Memorial Day Mint Julep


It’s more than just alliteration; it’s a statement, a proclamation that Thursdays are when the weekend should really start. Kicking it off right is the key, and what better way than with a cocktail that not only takes the edge off, but tastes good too. A hard thing to disagree with, we know. Drink up, get down and go to sleep happy.

Some drinks are just meant to be slowly sipped on a warm summer day, and since Memorial Day is unofficially the calendar kick-off for summer, start your extra-long weekend with this classic, cooling Mint Julep. With smooth bourbon finding its herbaceous counterpoint in the soft sweetness of fresh mint, it makes for a refreshing addition to summer’s first backyard cookout.

Mint-infused simple syrup is combined with Southern whiskey, and the mixture is frozen until it has a slushy consistency. When ready to serve, rim each glass with sugar for a frosted appearance and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint. Sip a chilled glass of this summertime tipple at this weekend’s Memorial Day ‘cue.

Bottoms up, folks!

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Thirsty Thursday: Mother’s Day Sangria


It’s more than just alliteration; it’s a statement, a proclamation that Thursdays are when the weekend should really start. Kicking it off right is the key, and what better way than with a cocktail that not only takes the edge off, but tastes good too. A hard thing to disagree with, we know. Drink up, get down and go to sleep happy.

Luckily, with things like flower delivery services and online subscriptions to magazines or whatever, it’s okay that you forgot about Mother’s Day until just now. But now that we’re three days away from celebrating the most important woman ever, it’s time to get a plan in place, preferably complete with Sunday brunch and drinks for a crowd.

This White Sangria is the perfect brunch punch. Crisp white wine, brandy and slices of citrus are all dumped in a bowl with ice. It’s easy, delicious and totally something Mom will love.

Bottoms up, folks!

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Thirsty Thursday: May Day Margarita


It’s more than just alliteration; it’s a statement, a proclamation that Thursdays are when the weekend should really start. Kicking it off right is the key, and what better way than with a cocktail that not only takes the edge off, but tastes good too. A hard thing to disagree with, we know. Drink up, get down and go to sleep happy.

The early days of May are chock-full of toast-worthy celebrations: Since today is May Day and Monday is Cinco de Mayo, combine the celebrations with this Lavender Margarita where our favorite south-of-the-border cocktail combines with a spring-centric floral aroma.

A botanical lavender simple syrup brightens a classic pitcher of silver tequila, Cointreau and lime. Rim the margarita glasses with dried lavender petals and sugar for a stunning result. Ole!

Bottoms up, folks.

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