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Maraschino liqueur is a Croatian liqueur made from marasca cherries.

It isn’t a common ingredient and it can be difficult to find in stores, depending on where you live.

Luckily, there are lots of great alternatives to Maraschino liqueur for baking, cooking and drinking.

In this article, you will learn the best alternatives to Maraschino liqueur.

Quick answer: The 5 best Maraschino liqueur substitutes are: another cherry liqueur, Kirsch/cherry brandy, cherry syrup, cherry vodka, and Tawny Port.


How is Maraschino liqueur made?

Maraschino liqueur is made by infusing marasca cherries in alcohol. Then, it is distilled, aged and a sugar syrup is added at the end to reduce the alcohol levels and transform it into a liqueur.

How much alcohol is in Maraschino cherrry liqueur?

Maraschino cherry liqueur has an ABV of approx. 32%.

What does Maraschino liqueur taste like?

Maraschino liqueur is colorless and tastes sweet. It has aromas of distilled cherries, roasted nuts, vanilla, orange and dark chocolate.

It can be enjoyed neat as an after-dinner drink, but it is most often used as an ingredient in many cocktails, such as the Aviation.

Best Maraschino substitutes

As an experienced cook, I’ve learned that with a little imagination there is a substitute for almost every ingredient.

Try to match flavors as closely as possible, as well as color and texture (e.g., thick or watery) when making recipe substitutes.

Another cherry liqueur

Maraschino is a cherry liqueur, so an alternative cherry liqueur is the most sensible substitute. It won’t have the exact same taste, but it will be very similar.

There are many options to choose from including:

  • Heering
  • Berentezen
  • Tattersall Sour Cherry liqueur

Kirsch or any cherry brandy


Kirsch is a colorless brandy made from morello cherries.

It is not sweet, so it is not an exact substitute for Maraschino liqueur. However, being made from distilled cherries it has a similar color and flavor profile.

Create a more accurate substitute by also adding some simple sugar syrup for sweetness.

Cherry vodka

Cherry vodka can be an excellent substitute for Maraschino liqueur.

It is colorless with a cherry flavor, so it is the right (non) color and flavor; however, we are missing the sweet element of Maraschino. A dash of simple sugar syrup will help to create a more accurate substitute.

Cherry flavored syrup with a clear spirit or brandy

Cherry syrups are a good non-alcoholic substitute for Maraschino liqueur.

Syrups add sweetness and juicy flavors to lemonades, mochas, sodas, iced teas etc., but they can also add sweetness to cocktails.

They are easy to find and there are lots of cherry syrup brands to choose from like Monin.

To recreate a more accurate alcoholic substitute for Maraschino liqueur, add a clear, neutral spirit like vodka. Use brandy if you don’t have a clear, neutral spirit.

Tawny Port

Port wine is made from black grapes grown in the upper Douro in Portugal. It is a fortified wine, which means that additional alcohol (grape spirit) is added to fermented grape juice to produce an alcoholic sweet wine.

Ruby Ports are aged for short periods in large oak vessels and are bottled ready to drink. They are fruity (blackberry, blackcurrant, cherry) and ruby in color. 

Tawny Ports are tawny to brown in color. They are aged in small barrels called “pipas” in contact with oxygen.

It is this contact with the oxygen and wood that creates the oxidative notes (dried fruit, walnut, chocolate, coffee and caramel) in Tawny Port, as well as its color.

Tawny Port can be a good substitute for Maraschino liqueur in some circumstances.

It is sweet, fruity with the nutty, chocolate flavors of Maraschino; however, it isn’t cherry flavored, so you will need to decide if it will work for your recipe.

Tawny Port wine

Non-alcoholic substitutes for Maraschino liqueur

There are lots of great non-alcoholic alternatives for Maraschino liqueur:

Cherry syrup

Cherry syrups are a good non-alcoholic substitute for Maraschino liqueur.

Syrups add the sweetness and cherry flavors without the alcohol. They are easy to find and there are lots of cherry syrup brands to choose from, like Monin. Look for a tart cherry syrup if you can find one.

Maraschino cherry juice

Maraschino cherry juice is the sweet liquid in a jar of Maraschino cherries.

It has the Maraschino cherry flavor without alcohol. Use it as a replacement for maraschino liqueur in cocktails or recipes.

Cherry juice

Cherry juice, especially sour cherry juice, can be a good alternative to Maraschino liqueur.

You may need to adjust sweetness levels, depending on how sweet the cherry juice is.

Cherry extract

Cherry extract has concentrated flavors that capture the essence of cherries.

It’s potent, so use sparingly. Begin with a drop or two and adjust as necessary to replace Maraschino liqueur.

Cherry soda

Cherry-flavored soda can infuse your cocktails with sweet cherry notes.

Adjust the quantity to control sweetness levels.


Maraschino liqueur vs cherry liqueur

Maraschino liqueur is a cherry liqueur made in Croatia with specific types of cherries (usually Marasca cherries).

Standard cherry liqueurs will likely contain regular or different types of cherries and are not from Croatia.

Premium liqueurs (which Maraschino often is) usually involve quality, natural ingredients, careful distillation and ageing. Cheaper liqueurs often mean lower quality ingredients and artificial flavorings.

Cherry liqueur vs cherry brandy

The main difference is that the cherry liqueur is sweet and the brandy is dry (not sweet).

Brandy is a liquor produced by distilling wine. Liqueurs can use all kinds of liquors as a base, including vodka, rum and brandy.

Can you substitute Maraschino liqueur for grenadine?

Grenadine is a non-alcoholic syrup that is usually made from pomegranate.

So, it won’t have the cherry flavor of Maraschino, is not colorless and is non-alcoholic; however, it may work as a substitute if you require a sweet, fruity element for your recipe.

What is Luxardo Maraschino?

Luxardo Maraschino is a premium brand of Maraschino liqueur. If you cannot find it, Gabriel Boudier Maraschino Cherry Liqueur is a good substitute.

Read with confidence: I am WSET L2 Award in Spirits & Diagio Bar Academy certified.