Leopold Brothers Maraschino Liqueur came about after a conversation between Leopold Bros. distiller Todd Leopold and Eric Johnson from Bar Agricole in San Francisco. At Bar Agricole, Erik focuses on craft product and was interested in finding a small batch maraschino. Todd Leopold did some research in the space and came up with a Marasca cherry that only grows in Croatia. After some discussions with the Croatian embassy, he got in touch with a few exporters to try to bring the cherries into the US. After realizing the logistical issues with importing fruit, Todd Leopold turned to the distilleries he had worked at in Austria and Germany who all make kirschwasser. After finding a distillery that would make an eau de vie from the Marasca cherries in Europe, Todd had the Croatian cherries shipped to the European distiller, distilled, and then shipped to the Leopold Bros. distillery in Colorado.
To give his maraschino an American component, Todd turned to the Montmorency cherry which he has used in their cherry liqueur . Todd was able to get the Montmorency cherries de-stoned, which was an essential step in the process; fermenting the cherries with the pits lends a marzipan, or bitter almond, note to the equation, which Todd felt would overpower the more floral and delicate notes from the Marasca cherries.
After mashing, fermenting, and distilling the Montmorency cherries, Todd blended the Montmorency eau de vie with the eau de vie from the Marasca cherries along with some honey, a traditional element in classical maraschino liqueur, and some cane sugar. Todd kept the sugar content low to maintain the spirit’s drier qualities.
Leopold Brothers Maraschino Liqueur ($32, 30%/ 60 Proof) has a light cherry blossom quality to the nose. Under the bouquet of white flowers lay the deeper dark cherry notes that are both sweet and the slightest bit bitter. The entry is light, soft, and very floral. The cherry blossoms from the nose transition directly to the palate. In the mid palate the cherry blossoms are joined by the deeper cherry notes. There’s no question that you are drinking a liqueur, as the sweet honey and sugar notes become quite pronounced. Although the maraschino liqueur is sweet, it still manages to mantain a nice balance with the cherry blossom and dark cherry flavors resulting in something that is floral, sweet, sour, and dry all at once. The finish on the Leopold Bros. Maraschino Liqueur is extremely long with the light cherry blossom notes lingering on the palate along with an undercurrent of honey. Although there’s a sweet quality to the finish, it ultimately comes off more dry than sweet.
A lot of maraschino liqueurs we’ve tried come off as fairly harsh and sharp, but the Leopold Brothers Maraschino Liqueur is so well crafted with such great finesse that you can easily sip it neat. Leopold Bros. Maraschino really shines when mixed and it’s simply breathtaking in a classic Aviation (recipe below). Cherries can be a very difficult fruit to work with and Leopold Bros. have shown yet again that they are up to any task, resulting in a crave worthy maraschino that lives up to the high standard of their other products.
2 oz Leopold Bros. Small Batch Gin
1/2 oz Leopold Bros. Maraschino Liqueur
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.