One thing that makes Sly's stand out from your average bar or restaurant is the quality of the cocktails. Make that "extreme" quality of the cocktails. Our bartenders, Bar Manager Chris Chinn, Restaurant Manager Mandy Huffaker, and Bartender Arianne Swaffer work really hard at making each cocktail just a little bit better. Each time, every time. Chris hand cracks the ice to order for that special cocktail; Mandy was the driving force behind our home made tonic water, homemade falernum syrup for those exceptional Zombies (there's a reason why they're limited 2 to a customer...) and other things like the oregat syrup for the MaiTais, made with organic Farmer's Market almonds. Seems like none of the staff miss a chance to make sure that customers get the best cocktail possible.
Yesterday afternoon, Chris and Mandy brought some wonderful ripe cherries to the restaurant with the idea that, perhaps, we could make our own Maraschino cherries. Seemed like a good idea to me, so I jumped on the internet and tried to see what people have done about making their own Maraschino cherries. As often happens, there was an overabundance of information - to say the very least. Some recipes seemed appalling to my sense of purism about things - I'm just not sure that we need to add more flavors like cinnamon and nutmeg to a Manhattan with a spiced cherries. Other recipes seemed just a bit too simple. As is often the case, sifting through many pages of information gave us some hints as to what direction to go. Armed with some ideas, and some small bottles, we decided to approach the project with a little bit of science - we started out three different ways, carefully noted, and we'll see how the resulting cherries come out.
One recipe called for citric acid - Vitamin C - to start the cherries' curing process. Since our cherries aren't very sour, the citric acid seems like a good starting place. That is jar "A".
Another method just plopped the carefully pitted cherries in Maraschino liqueur, so jar "B" contains just that. Finally, it seems that the historic process for making the cherries started with curing them in sea water. So Chloe, our hostess, went down to "The World's Safest Beach" here in Carpinteria and brought back some "Eau de Pacific" which we boiled for the cherries in jars "C". Both "A" and "C" will be getting the liqueur treatment after the first part of the process finishes.
I'm thinking that our final method will probably combine A and C, finishing with a cherry that's both tart and a bit salty, which should make an even more interesting Manhattan. Stay tuned!
(Note: the above Maraschino cherry is not one of our homemade ones - not yet.)