Maraschino Head to Head: Bols vs. Luxardo vs. Maraska

Maraschino Head to Head: Bols vs. Luxardo vs. Maraska

bols maraschinoMaraschino is an essential liqueur in many a classic cocktail — especially the Casino and the Hemingway Daiquiri — but it’s one of the few categories where only a small number of producers, typically wicker-clad European brands, hold sway. The biggest of these is Italy’s Luxardo. Croatia’s Maraska is another commonly-seen version of the liqueur.

Now comes a new entry in the form of mass-producer Bols, the Dutch liqueurists with a panoply of fruit-flavored concoctions on the market.

Can Bols Maraschino stand up to the icons of the category? I’d never formally reviewed Luxardo Maraschino or Maraska, so what better time than the present? I tasted these blind so as not to sway my opinion with fancy branding. The identifying — and surprising — details were added later.

Thoughts follow.

Bols Maraschino – There’s not so much cherry on the nose here as there are tropical lychee and flowery perfume notes, with a sort of medicinal cherry flavor on the back end. Quite sweet and syrupy, it’s got a gummy finish that smacks of added gelatin. 48 proof. C+ / $15 [BUY IT NOW FROM THE BOTTLE CLUB]

Luxardo Maraschino – This is a wildly different experience. It’s sharp and astringent on the nose, not sweet at all. Oddly, it offers primarily granary aromas — cereal and fresh hay — rather than the intense cherry character one expects. Fruit comes along, but it’s almost an afterthought, relegated to the background. Frankly, the combination is slightly off-putting. The palate brings more balance, but it’s still got that heavy grain maraskafocus that surprisingly reminds me of animal feed. The fruit is indistinct, but it finally comes around as an echo on the finish. The ultimate character is something closer to a fruit brandy than a liqueur — which is either a good thing or a bad, depending on what you want out of your maraschino. 64 proof. B / $29 [BUY IT NOW FROM TOTAL WINE]

Maraska Original Maraschino – A nice balance between the two styles above, with brandy-like aromatics and lots of floral notes on the nose, backed up by sweet cherries. On the palate, the cherries are clear and sweet, but not overpowering. Those floral elements play on the palate as well, adding a spicy distinctness and complexity to the mix. This is the only one of these three I’d consider drinking neat (and the only one in which I polished off the sample glass), but it seems tailor-made for adding round cherry notes plus exotic floral elements to a cocktail. 64 proof. A / $27 [BUY IT NOW FROM THE WHISKY EXCHANGE]

The winner? Maraska makes a surprising upset over the better-known Luxardo, by quite a wide margin.

Maraska Original Maraschino




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.


  1. Jono on September 21, 2018 at 4:01 am

    Good comparison. By the way, Bols used to produce Maraschino back in the day. We’ve seen 1960s and 1970s bottles of the stuff. Production must have ceased, only to be revived.

  2. Neil on December 8, 2021 at 2:54 am

    Luxardo has a most peculiar taste. However it’s a taste that works in the cocktails it generally gets used in. Those grassy notes bring a lovely dry, herbaceous dimension to a Hemingway that works beautifully.

    So it’s still the brand I tend to add to my drinks cabinet, given I’m never going to drink any type of Maraschino on its own.

  3. Derrick Mancini on July 28, 2022 at 11:05 am

    Absolutely agree with your evaluation, still true today. There are some modern cocktails that have been built around Luxardo, and so using Maraska likely will not obtain whatever flavor profile was intended. But since both Luxardo and Maraska have been around since the same year, 1821, either might have been what was used in classic 19th C cocktails that call for it, and it was a common ingredient in the latter part of the 19th C.

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