The humble cherry is a familiar item around the world ranging in flavor, color, texture, and more. With over 1,200 varieties across the globe, its no wonder why they are used in a variety of applications. While you might see them used for snacking, baking, and cooking they are also widely used in the beverage industry. Adding cherries to a cocktail or juice to a cider can add both sweetness and tart flavor profiles. We want to highlight this versatile fruit and showcase its utilization in the cider world.
Here are three applications for cherries: a garnish, a muddle or syrup, or a flavor profile for hard cider. Let’s explore!
This is one of the most commonly seen uses for cherries when it comes to the alcohol industry. Not only do cherries add a visual appeal to a cocktail but they can also provide a slight change in color and presentation. Cider cocktails can benefit from this use by adding small amounts of sweetness and a nice snack afterward. We prefer to use Filthy Foods Amarena cherries which are wild Italian cherries with an intense sweet-tart flavor and slightly bitter notes. This product (BUY IT HERE) has a rich dark color that adds great flavor to cider cocktails particularly those using whiskey. You can also try using Bing, Rainier, or Luxardo cherries to add different levels of flavor. Here are a couple of recipe ideas that could use Filthy Amarena Cherries as a garnish.
In these cocktails, the cherries serve as a decorative garnish, adding a pop of color and a touch of elegance to the drink. They can be placed on a skewer or simply dropped into the glass. Below are some other suggestions of cherries you can buy for garnishing:
Peninsula Premium Cherries: BUY IT HERE
Fabbri Amarena Cherries: BUY IT HERE
Luxardo Cherries: BUY IT HERE
We know a garnish can add a small flavor change to a cocktail but what if you want a bit more of a cherry bite? This is where muddling or cherry syrup comes in. Muddling in the bottom of a glass before you create a cocktail can infuse the drink with its flavor and release some color. This is a more gentle approach when adding cherry juice than using syrup. Using cherry syrup would be a more aggressive way to add color and flavor to a cocktail while adding thickness to the drink. We also use a product from Filthy Foods called black cherry syrup (BUY IT HERE). This product can replace simple syrup in a cocktail recipe and add rich complexity. Below are some ideas of drinks that would benefit from these uses.
In this cocktail, the muddles cherry adds both color and flavor that acts like cherry juice instead of an accent-like garnish. Cherries can also be used as garnish to make the drink more visually appealing.
This cocktail takes the classic Old Fashioned and adds a twist with a heavy cherry punch and hard cider. These flavors will both accent the whiskey flavor and add a more appealing flavor to those who do not want a whisky-forward drink. Below are some other options for cherry syrups you can utilize.
Collin Cherry Syrup: BUY IT HERE
Fabbri Amarena Cherry Syrup: BUY IT HERE
Black Cherry Puree – Infused Syrup: BUY IT HERE
When you are looking for something a bit more on the simple side of things that has cherry flavor, there are plenty of hard cider products on the market. Most of these ciders have juice or natural cherry flavors added to a degree that the cidermakers feel is balanced. These can be consumed directly without any fussy cocktail-making experience. Below are a couple of cherry ciders that we have enjoyed throughout the years.
This cider starts with a base of fresh apple cider which is fermented with Michigan cherry juice. The color is between rose and blush and is a well-balanced product. The cider comes in at 6.5% and is most readily available in 16 oz cans. Visit their site: https://www.ujcidermill.com/taproom
An imperial offering that is assertive yet smooth and comes in at 8%. The color is not as red or blush as you would think but offers a sweet cherry kick with a backbone and body of higher alcohol content. The cool part is the apple varieties uses include some interesting choices including Amerede Berthecourt, Beden, and Binet Rouge. This is available in a 6-pack of 12 oz cans and you can find more info here: https://www.angryorchard.com/our-ciders/hardcore-dark-cherry-apple
1911 brings a crisp and slightly tart and sweet cider to the table. Full of rich black cherry notes that are sure to differentiate itself from the other ciders on the list. These are available in 16 oz cans and it comes in at 6.9% ABV. Find it here: https://1911established.com/product/black-cherry/
One of the smaller cideries on the list comes from Montana. This 6.7% cider brings a blend of apples and sour cherries to create a beautiful reddish color that you can see in their bottles. Jammy and tart — perfect for those who want their cherry on the edge. Check it out here: https://westerncider.com/sour-cherry
Any way you pick it cherry is a great accompaniment to hard cider or cider cocktails. It can add depth, complexity, visual appeal, and flavor that is appealing to a large audience. Experiment with different types of cherries to find a fit for your palate!