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6 Maraschino Liqueur Substitutes

Lisa Price
Last Updated on
by Lisa Price

Maraschino liqueur — beloved by emperors, poets, and philosophers — is the key component in some of the most renowned cocktails today.

Its enticing flavor derives from a particular species of cherry, the marasca cherry, which grows exclusively on Croatia’s Dalmatian coast.

Since it’s an expensive and hard-to-find liqueur, you may rely on Maraschino liqueur substitutes to make desserts and cocktails.

Maraschino Liqueur
Maraschino Liqueur

What’s Maraschino Liqueur?

Maraschino is a dry liqueur produced from Croatian Marasca cherries. Marasca cherries are petite, dark crimson berries that are tart and slightly bitter.

This booze is clear. The scent is a trademark of marasca cherry distillate, with notes of roasted almonds, vanilla, orange marmalade, and dark chocolate.

When poured on the rocks, Maraschino has a sweet and wonderful cherry flavor that’s not too sugary.

Furthermore, it blends exceptionally well with a broad range of alcoholic beverages, including Gin, Whiskey, Brandy, and Rum.

Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur Alternatives

  1. Cherry brandy
  2. Cherry vodka
  3. Kirsch
  4. Amaretto
  5. Port wine
  6. Cherry simple syrup

Cherry Brandy

Cherry Brandy
Cherry Brandy

Cherry Brandy is infused with cherries. Aside from the prominent cherry aroma, the brandy is delicately sweet with a woody undertone reminiscent of Maraschino.

The sweet, dry, and nutty flavor make cherry brandy an excellent replacement for Maraschino drinks and desserts.

DeKuyper Cherry Brandy is a rich and smooth alternative with marzipan, chocolate, and toasted almond notes.

It’s a fantastic ingredient utilized in many fruity cocktails though you can also drink it on the rocks. It may be used in sweets such as mousse or chocolate cake.

Cherry Vodka

Cherry Vodka
Cherry Vodka

Vodka lovers — you’ll like this Maraschino substitute. Cherry vodka adds a robust flavor to your drinks and desserts without making them too sweet.

The flavors differ depending on the type of vodka used. If you want something sweeter, try Pinnacle cherry. It’s rich with vanilla and berry aromas, with a clean cherry finish.

If you want something with a stronger alcohol flavor, use Smirnoff or Absolut Cherry Vodka.



People often confuse Kirsch with cherry brandy. Cherry brandy is flavored with cherries, whereas kirsch is a pure spirit made from distilling sour cherries.

This German counterpart is a clear alcohol, much like Maraschino. It’s made by distilling morello cherries and has a naturally sour flavor due to fermentation.

Kirsch has almond notes and can be utilized in many Maraschino cocktail and dessert recipes.

We recommend Dettling Superieur, an exceptional Kirsch made from the best Swiss highland cherries.



Amaretto is of Italian origin but is now produced worldwide, including in the Netherlands and the United States.

While it lacks the cherry flavor of maraschino, it has a comparable almond flavor. The sweetness varies between brands, and some varieties have overtones of herbs and spices.

Amaretto is a staple in many cocktail recipes thanks to its dry and bitter flavor coupled with sweet and nutty overtones.

Dekuyper Amaretto Liqueur is highly recommended. It contains almonds, lemon oils, vanilla, sweet caramel, and a hint of cognac.

Port Wine

Port Wine
Port Wine

Port wine is a variety of Portuguese red wine. The scent is woody and aromatic, and the flavor is characterized as sweet, bitter, and rich, with a cherry undertone.

The aroma of port wine is a wonderful substitute for the spicy scent of maraschino. This Portugal equivalent can take any dessert or beverage to the next level.

It comes in different varieties. If you want to replace the Maraschino liqueur, we recommend Rose or Ruby Port. Both may be used as maraschino alternatives in cocktails, although Ruby Port is the better choice for cooking.

Cherry Simple Syrup

Cherry Simple Syrup
Cherry Simple Syrup

This is a fantastic non-alcoholic option if you want to add a splash of cherry to your favorite dessert or drink.

Cherry syrup is made from regular syrup, with cherries added for flavor and color. It has a robust sweetness and a biting sourness.

It’s an alcohol-free alternative to Maraschino that can be added to desserts and cocktails for flavor and color enhancement.

For best results, look for a natural and organic cherry syrup free of sugar or preservatives. Just keep in mind that it will be less sweet than regular cherry syrup.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the origins of Maraschino Liqueur?

The Maraschino recipe is rumored to have been developed in the sixteenth century, by a Franciscan apothecary in a Dalmatian monastery.

The town of Zara, formerly under the jurisdiction of the Republic of Venice, now part of Croatia, is recognized as the origin place of the liqueur.

Some historians believe that Maraschino was created by botanist Bartolomeo Ferrari when he realized he could produce an exquisite alcoholic beverage out of the marasca cherry.

Venetian Giuseppe Carceniga later improved the manufacturing method for this drink by refining the distillation process.

The production of Maraschino became pretty popular at Zara shortly after. Many enterprises started popping up, all with their unique ‘secret recipe.’ Luxardo, one of the original producers, continues to produce the liqueur to this day.

How Is Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur Made?

Each summer, the marasca cherries are picked and steeped in alcohol for up to three years. The trees’ leaves and branches are also included.

When ready, the liquid and solid components are distilled using traditional copper pot stills. The distillate matures in vats made entirely of ash wood.

A simple syrup consisting of sugar and water is then added to the distillate to transform it into liqueur, lowering the alcohol content to 32%.

Luxardo dresses the bottles with hand-woven straw plaits. This trademark harkens back to the original Zara Maraschino bottles when the straw was inserted to avoid shipping damage.

What are the most famous cocktails that include Maraschino Liqueur?

Maraschino’s flavor produces the greatest results in cocktails. Some are quite well-known, including:

  • The Martinez — The legendary “Father of the Martini” cocktail from the 1860s. It’s made with Maraschino liqueur, Old Tom Gin, Boker’s Bitters, Italian sweet Vermouth, and orange or lemon twist garnish. 
  • The Aviation — A cocktail invented by the New York bartender Hugo Ensslin in 1916. It combines Maraschino liqueur, ‘Crème de Violette, Gin, and squeezed lemon juice.
  • The Last Word — A drink from the early 20s created in a Detroit private club during the prohibition. The top ingredients are gin, Maraschino liqueur, Chartreuse, and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
  • The Hemingway Special — Born around the 1940s, this drink evolved from Ernest Hemingway’s favorite cocktail, the “Floridita Daiquiri.” Its primary components are Rum, lime juice, grapefruit juice, and Maraschino liqueur.


Kirsch’s cherry-almond flavor makes this Maraschino substitute the obvious winner in terms of appearance, flavor, and scent.

Cherry Vodka is perfect for those who prefer the powerful and imposing flavor of vodka over the sweetness of Maraschino.

For desserts that call for Maraschino or other cherry-flavored alcoholic beverages, we suggest cherry brandy and port wine since they are both sweet and quite aromatic. 

Amaretto is quite bitter compared to Maraschino, but its almond, caramel, and vanilla flavors make up for the bitterness when you use it in cocktails and desserts.

If you’re looking for a non-alcoholic option, simple cherry syrup tastes divine in muffins, cakes, and brownies.

About Lisa Price
Lisa Price
Lisa is Food Champ's resident fitness enthusiast and nutrition expert. She holds a nutrition degree in her home state of Florida and works for a large health system to ensure sound nutrition and dietetics information is passed on to all members.
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