I recently polished off a bottle of maraschino that I had had for a little over two years. I initially bought it so I could try an Aviation cocktail, which grew to be one of my favorites. At the time I bought that bottle, the only brand I could find was Stock. I couldn’t find Luxardo, initially, and to this day, I still can’t recall seeing Maraska.
So…Stock it was. And I started mixing Aviations. The first batch I mixed, Jen hated. It’s not like she hates gin or lemon juice; she just didn’t like the maraschino.
My bible, at the time I found the Stock, was Gary Regan’s The Joy of Mixology. And his recipe for the Aviation was two ounces of gin and half an ounce each of maraschino and lemon juice. That was way too sweet for Jen, and at some point, I apparently decided that was too sweet for me as well; I have a note penciled in the book: “use 3/4 oz lemon w/Stock mara!”
Even that change, though, couldn’t make a believer out of Jen. It wasn’t until she found the David Embury book, The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, at an amazingly low price that I was able to mix an Aviation to her satisfaction. (She found a copy that cost less than a bottle of Old Potrero whiskey. I love Mrs. Bitters.) I followed the famous Embury ratio of 8:2:1 and finally made an Aviation that wasn’t too sweet for her.
But having siphoned off the last of the Stock maraschino, it was finally time to procure a bottle of Luxardo. I always wanted one anyway, at least as a fetish. Who doesn’t love that straw-wrapped bottle? I mean, c’mon. Part of being a drinks nerd is having cool bottles on your shelves. It’s not the whole of it, but y’all gotta admit it’s part. Additionally, though, I’ve heard many a cocktail nerd discussing the finer points of Maraska and Luxardo–especially compared to Stock, which seems widely disparaged.
As I write this now, I have to the right of me two snifters. One has the dregs of the Stock bottle; the other, some Luxardo. To my left, a gin and tonic. To–ahem–cleanse my palate. (We laugh, you and I, but it works surprisingly well at that task.)
Now, I’m not good at tasting notes, but what I can say is this:
- The Stock is flat and sugary, with a bare hint of almond
- The Luxardo is bright and vibrant, with a hint of almond, sure, but also with a deep and rich spice profile.
I almost wish I’d have kept enough Stock on hand to taste-test two versions of the Aviation.
Almost. After sipping the two side by side, I’m happy to put my back to the Stock maraschino. The only taste-test that matters to me now is Luxardo versus Maraska.