At long last high-quality Grenadine is widely available. (If you’re buying Rose’s — which is just red corn syrup — you’re missing out.)
But who mourns the death of the Maraschino cherry? Once a reference to a Croatian marasca cherry preserved in maraschino liqueur, Maraschino cherries are now chemical-laden monstrosities that remain a staple of even high-end bars.
Hey, you don’t have to have loads of FD&C Red #40 in your Maraschinos. Check out Washington-based Tillen Farms’ no-dye, no-corn syrup cherries, which we consider here alongside three other garnishes from these artisan producers. All of these products are alcohol-free.
UPDATE: Tillen Farms is offering all Drinkhacker readers 25% off on all purchases. Just use promo code “DRINKHACKER” at checkout on the tillenfarms.com website.
Tillen Farms Merry Maraschino Cherries – It’s hard to believe that these bright red orbs contain no red dye. Sweetened only with cane sugar, these are traditional Maraschinos: Very sugary (and sticky as hell) with just a dusting of fruit flavor underneath. There’s more depth here, though, than in the the typical Maraschino, and more importantly, no nasty, chemical aftertaste. A- / $7 per 14 oz. jar
Tillen Farms Bada Bing Cherries – When you’re ready to upgrade your cherry, jump for these bad boys: Real (and large) Bing cherries in syrup. The effect is much like a brandied cherry, without the alcohol. Rich, earthy, and a bit sour, these cherries are still plenty sweet enough to give a Shirley Temple a bit more pop. Great for a Manhattan, even better for muddled cocktails when you really want to amp up the flavor. A / $7 per 13.5 oz. jar
Tillen Farms Hot & Spicy Crispy Beans – These pickled green beans are obviously of high quality, with nary a blemish. Long and authentic, these string beans are pickled with lots of dill, garlic, and red pepper flakes. They pack a spicy punch, but not overbearingly so. Decent green bean flavor, too, but there’s not too much of it — which is probably for the best. B+ / $7 per 12 oz. jar
Tillen Farms Crispy Asparagus – Again, very high-quality, thin, and crispy asparagus spears are pickled with plenty of garlic. These are mild, however — a spicy version is available, too — and there’s a good balance between the vegetal character and the pickling spices, but the overall results are distinctly asparagus. Not bad at all, assuming, as with the beans, you’re using these in a Bloody Mary. One of the company’s two original products, dating back to 1984. B+ / $7 per 12 oz. jar