The Cherry Rumtini

A local ice cream parlor puts cherries on its sundaes. But not some crappy maraschino cherry *. They have their cherries flown in from Italy, and they’re so fantastic I bought some, and had to find other uses for them so I don’t have to eat so much ice cream! What I came up with a buddy says I should call “The Amazing Martini”! The recipe is below.

First, the Right Cherries

The Amarena cherry is a variety of prunus cerasus developed by Gennaro Fabbri (born 1869 in Bologna, Italy). His wife Rachele picked the cherries and slowly cooked and semi-candied them in copper pots. Gennaro, in turn, bought a ceramic jar from Riccardo Gatti, an artist from Faenza, to store what she made. They had to buy a lot of those white and blue ceramic jars, because the couple started commercial production of those candied cherries in 1905, naturally naming the brand Fabbri.

Click to see on Amazon * — but see update below first.

The company is still family-owned today, and the cherries still come in the beautiful blue and white ceramic jar. They’re a great combination of tartness and sweetness, and slam your tastebuds with intense cherry flavor.

I was immediately hooked — but see update below!


I asked Torben, the ice cream man at Cafe Ridgway a la Mode, where he gets them. He imports them from Italy, he told me: they’re on auto-ship. Hm. “Can you get them from Amazon?” I asked. He stopped cold, looking at me for a long moment. He stepped over to his computer, which was already sitting on the counter, and started typing.

“I’ll be damned,” he said — they have them! “How’s the cost?” He looked at the screen, picked up the jar from the counter to look at the size, and looked back at the screen. About the same, he said. “Even with shipping?” Yep.

I went straight home and ordered a jar — with free shipping since I have Prime. Not as cheap as the grocery store crap: about $20 for a 21-ounce jar, but 21 ounces is a lot, since they’re so flavorful you’ll only want a couple-few at a time. (Don’t have prime? Just add more items until you get to the minimum for free shipping. I’ll recommend a second jar, or maybe a couple of martini glasses….)

They arrived two days later, heavily packed to keep the jar safe. Since then, I’ve had some every … single … day! I’ll toss some in my breakfast cereal. I’ll mix them in with other cut fruit. And, yes, anytime I have ice cream, I throw a couple on that, too.

But I Wanted Another Way to Have Some!

How maraschinos are made, per WikipediaNaturally, I quickly got the idea to put them in my favorite cocktail, a vodka martini. You’d think that would be great, but no: I didn’t like it very much at all. The sweetness was washed away by the vodka, and the tartness was intensely pronounced. Not quite what I had in mind.

So I thought about it: what would compliment the sweetness? What would it “naturally” go with?

How about …a different kind of sweetness?

Then it hit me.


The next night, I pulled out my favorite sipping rum: Zaya, an amazing blend produced in Trinidad and Tobago that’s reasonably priced for what it is. Of course, other rums of high enough quality to sip straight would be fine too, like Diplomatico Reserva (from Venezuela. Dec. 21 Update: that has since become my favorite).

I poured some over ice, tossed in a few cherries with a little of their syrup, and stirred.

And it was fantastic.

I texted my buddy Bill, who loves food and drink even more than I do, to say he needed to come over and try it. It was late, and I went to bed. The next morning I had a reply text: “When?” Whenever you get here, buddy!

The Recipe, with a Refinement

Before Bill could get here, I came up with a refinement that took the drink from fantastic to amazing. When Bill tasted it, he agreed: I should call it The Amazing Martini, he said — “You could patent this!”

Well, probably not, so let me simply share it with you! Here’s the recipe I came up with, which I split into two martini glasses, one for each of us:

Cherry Rumtini
2 parts fine rum, such as Diplomatico Reserva or Zaya
1 part Amaretto (I use Disaronno Originale, which also happens to be made in Italy)
Shake vigorously with ice in cocktail shaker
Pour over 3 cherries in about a teaspoon of their juice, and stir.

Not a drinker? You probably want some of these cherries anyway, for your cereal, fruit, or ice cream.

Are a drinker? Try this. Or just put these into an Old Fashioned.

Trust Me: once you’ve had these, you won’t want a factory-made maraschino ever again.

December 2021 Update

First, I found that Trader Joes has a seasonal (Christmastime only) offering of amarena cherries in a one-pound jar for $3.99, which is a steal. My closest TJs is a 7-hour drive, but I was able to get some on a trip last year. They are better than the brand discussed above: larger and firmer. They also have stems.

Better than the brand above: larger, firmer, and just as tasty. (Click to see on Amazon *)

Once those were gone, I started researching to see if I could find what company provides them to TJs, and I think I did: this Christmas I tried Rex Amarena cherries, also from Italy. They are also larger and firmer, but no stems. As of this writing they are $15 on Amazon for a 35 oz can. I popped open the can and spooned them into a jar to keep in the fridge.

Better and cheaper? That’s a no-brainer for me, and I have a spare can in the pantry in case you all buy so many the price goes up. 🙂


Note: I was not asked to, let alone paid to, run this “review”/recipe. I only recommend products I personally enjoy: I bought my own cherries, and have never been given any by any manufacturer. I am simply presenting this recipe to bring something tasty to the world. If you buy the cherries from Amazon using the links here, I’ll get a small kickback from Amazon for sending you their way, which won’t affect the price you pay.

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27 Comments on “The Cherry Rumtini

  1. Will share this with our kids and will try it myself.

    Thanks for sharing!

    I’m guessing your kids aren’t in grade school. 🙂 -rc

  2. As a former investigator, I had an opportunity to observe how maraschino cherries are made. Consequently, I have refused to have any of them since. I have requested my drinks or confections be served with no ‘cherries’ and returned them when my instructions were forgotten or ignored.

    These cherries I want to try!

    I made some ‘preserved’ cherries myself a few years ago. Some Rare Breed, a small amount of ginger and fresh cherries I picked from the trees in Ferndale, Washington. Warm it all on the stove and poured into a jar to keep. These were soooo good. Not sweet, but well infused with the whiskey.

  3. “This item does not ship to Australia.” Damn!

    Sorry! But maybe you can find a specialty food store in your area that can get them. -rc

  4. Mmm, sounds good.

    I will have to get some to Australia anyway and try in my favorite cherry recipe:

    • Drain all fluid from the jar they come in.
    • Fill the jar with a good chocolate rum liqueur so that cherries are totally covered.
    • Let sit for at least 90 days (check the fluid level regularly and replenish as required).
    • Enjoy with fresh real cream.

    Yep, that sounds very good! -rc

  5. I am amused/puzzled by the trend to call a cocktail a “Martini” when it has no ingredients in common with an actual martini. It is perfectly acceptable to give a new drink recipe a name that does not end with “tini”.

    The cherries sound wonderful. I’ll try the drink, but I’ll give it a new name.

    Let me know what you come up with. -rc

  6. I ordered these from Amazon, they came promptly and well packed. You’re right, they are delicious! I haven’t tried them in Rum yet (gotta go get a bottle of the good stuff) but I have tried them on ice cream and I see why that ice cream parlor uses them — Amazing!

  7. Read about the cherries this morning. Went to Amazon via your link and made the mistake of only adding them to my cart, thinking I might purchase something else later today. Came back tonight to find the price jumped 2 to 3 dollars. Hope to try them sometime but won’t order today. This is why Amazon sometimes leaves a sour taste in my mouth!

    That’s not Amazon, that’s the seller that’s using Amazon to take orders. When there’s a rush of orders (e.g., something mentioned in a popular blog), the seller will often boost the price — especially if they have limited stock. When the rush is over, they’ll usually lower it again. My first jar was $19.32. I decided to get a second before the blog post came out, and it was $18.30 when I put it in my cart …and $18.15 when I checked out 2 minutes later! As I approve this comment, they’re $19.88, from a high (that I saw, anyway: I looked after I posted the blog entry) of $21 & change. -rc

    • Glad I waited, Randy! Here it is just a few hours later and the price went from $21.52 down to $18.23! So sweet I can almost taste it! And I will in 2 days!

      Thanks for your original suggestion of the cherries and explanation to my previous post!

      My pleasure, and nice to know TRUE still has a little power in the vast online marketplace! 😀 -rc

  8. Just checked Amazon. (Sunday 9 Sept, 11:00 am PDT)

    The prices are interesting.

    The 21 oz. Fabbri jar is offered by SimplyBeautiful and JF Distributions. (And a few others, much higher $)

    It looks like JF Distributions had to lower their price (some at $24.99, then more at $21.92), and then SimplyBeautiful priced it 1 penny lower ($21.91) (both Fulfillment by Amazon, including Prime). You’ve got to love competition. Perhaps it will get back down in the $19 range.

    I was also intrigued by a link to two jars of the same brand for less — but found they are smaller jars. A pair of 8.1 oz jars is as cheap as $15.99 ($8.00/Item), in case you want smaller jars. These look like smaller jars, and are marketed as a “2 pack” on the main page.

    Again, JF Distributions and SimplyBeautiful are within 13 cents of each other, but the cheapest at the moment is from Yummy Bazaar.

    But, mostly, I look forward to the cherry-amaretto-rum “martini” you’ve designed, Randy.

    And, your link leads to the currently-cheapest ($21.91) — so I’ll be buying it from your link and leaving you the $ credit. Thanks!

    In the time it took to type my comment, JF Distributions lowered it 8 cents and SimplyBeautiful lowered it 8 cents to stay below them. When competition becomes like watching a tennis match!

    Man, I’m getting thirsty for that cherry/rum “martini”.

    BTW — I greatly enjoy Mt Gay Barbadan rum. Their Eclipse line is very nice, and commonly available, but they also have some jaw-dropping blends, like their “Extra Old”. (I haven’t ponied up for their “1703 Master Select” yet… I will try some Mt Gay with these terrific-sounding cherries.

    I see the two 8.1oz jars for $16, but it’s not Prime shipping, so who knows how long it’ll take to get them? It’s one of the things I really like about Amazon: when they ship, it’s quick! And yeah, it’s amazing to see how often the prices change on popular items, especially when there is more than one seller. Don’t like a price? Wait a few hours…!

    Zaya (750ml) is about $32 in my area, and is good enough to sip neat, with a nicely rounded vanilla profile. I haven’t tried the Mount Gay. The reviews I’ve seen of Eclipse make me think it’s lower end, but Extra Old looks like it might be good. Thanks for the tip. -rc

  9. Randy I clicked on the arrow after the pricing from the Yummy Bazaar and their claim is if ordered today, they will arrive between Wed. 9/12-Thur. 9/13.

    Not bad! -rc

  10. This looks like the same cherries in a 7 pound can for about $65. “Fabbri Amarena Wild Cherries in Syurp Large Can, 7 Pound by Fabbri.” JF Distributions, eligible for Prime shipping.

    Your libation sounds yummy — may have to try w/some Montanya rum (formerly of Silverton, now Crested Butte).

    Yeah, that’s quite a deal ($9.28/lb), but I wasn’t sure I could go through that many before any spoilage. Certainly good for any commercial operation. -rc

    • Could you freeze in small batches? ‘most anything freezes ok. Mite be worth a try with a tablespoon or so. 🙂

      Maybe. I went through my first jar really fast. Second jar is slower. For just me, 21 oz will last awhile! -rc

      • I gave the big can a try. And even with freezing, the juice started crystallizing. It still make a drink that tastes the same, but it takes a bunch of stirring and is cloudy. Nowhere near as elegant.

        It was worth a try. Thanks for relaying the results. -rc

  11. Those cherries belong in rye or bourbon! Specifically a Manhattan. Do try it!

    I’m not much of a bourbon drinker, but I at least suggested an Old Fashioned! 🙂 -rc

  12. Thanks for the suggestion. The jar arrived very securely packaged. I decided to treat myself even though they’re expensive, but I only use about 3/4 of teaspoon with 2 cherries and syrup in my rum drink. I use spiced rum, a squeeze of lemon and plain seltzer in a 13oz glass with lots of ice. The cherries are a perfect compliment to the rum. My cherries will probably last for a couple of months so they are definitely worth the money. They are so good they don’t even compare with maraschino cherries.

    Yeah: these you actually want to taste! I haven’t tried it with spiced rum, so thanks for the suggestion! -rc

  13. Your cherries and drink sound right up my alley. Unfortunately, the rest of my immediate family don’t share my culinary adventurousness. I did, however, send your blog link to my sister and her partner, who ordered them and love them. Thanks.

    Well, my wife doesn’t drink, so these are just for me (and guests). I’m on my second jar! And indeed had a rumtini this evening while sitting by the fire with Kit. You don’t have to share! -rc

  14. So my wife and I tried your drink recipe. We went with Gosling’s Black Seal Rum and Disaronno. After the first batch I switched to adding the syrup into the shaker and upped it to two spoonfuls. Then I shake well and pour into some glasses that came in a Bailey’s gift set my wife once received. If I think of it I chill the glasses first. Add in three cherries each and we are set.

    One each is always enough for us, but let’s face it, three ounces of rum with an ounce and a half of Disaronno is plenty for an evening. This concoction of yours is wonderful, but I agree with the previous comment about not being keen on the name “rumtini”. I also don’t have a better suggestion at this time so we’ll just stick with it for now.

    Glad you enjoy it. Yeah, the syrup is pretty thick (hard to mix) so adding it to the shaker is a great idea. Thanks! -rc

  15. Haven’t tried these cherries in a drink yet (I will, at some point). But added to goat milk yogurt and the granola I love (Nora’s Kitchen) it makes an amazing breakfast. I ordered the dark cherries — once they are gone I will try the original. They are just delicious.

  16. Just found Amarena cherries at Trader Joe’s. $3.99 for 460 g (16.2 oz; 7.4 oz dry wt). “Trader Joe’s Pitted Amarena Cherries with stems in syrup”

    A good price for what is bound to be a lot better than maraschinos. That said, the off-brand amarenas I tasted were nowhere as good as Fabbri — either in flavor or texture. But if that works for you, great! -rc

    Update: Apparently the TJ’s version was a Christmas season special buy. I tried them at a friend’s house in the Big City (the closest Joe’s is a 5-hour drive for me), and I agree they’re excellent — the closest in quality to the original among the several I’ve tried. Before heading home, I stopped at TJ’s; at that price, I bought all they had left: 6 jars. -rc

  17. I bought a jar of these cherries and they are yummy! Much, much better than the usual. I use the juice to help flavor a Vodka Tonic and add a couple of cherries as well. Delicious!

    What timing: I buy two jars at a time now, and my most recent supply arrived this morning. Still delicious! -rc

  18. So I’ve ordered a jar of the Amarena cherries from Amazon off your link. I love them, but they are so rich I can’t eat too many at once or too often. I wonder what they would do in some vodka, left to marinate for a few weeks… Then add some tonic or soda over ice. I think I’ll try it.

    Please let us know the results. -rc

  19. Ordered from Amazon and with Prime, my cherries were here in two days! Couldn’t wait to open the can so unearthed a large Mason jar from the preserving materials.

    They went straight to the refrigerator, well, minus a few for tasting. And, don’t normally drink in the middle of the day so some Blue Bell vanilla ice cream on a slice of pound cake topped with some cherries and sauce. Perfecto! I’ll work on that drink recipe later but for now, great recommendation. Now I can’t decide whether to share the good news or keep it for myself….humm.

  20. Soaking them in coffee and chocolate flavored rum means they never go bad but there is a problem with keeping them out of mouths so even though we do a 2kg (5lb) batch at a time they never last more than 12 months.

    If we are low on the rum we use whiskey liquor and some prefer that.

    I would expect vodka would preserve them just as well with the same long term problem.

    Oh, no need: coffee/chocolate rum sounds perfect! -rc

  21. I’ll have to order me some, Randy! They sound amazing.

    So, is the Rumtini a nod to the Duke of Ellington? (Sugar Rum Cherry)

    No: not a lot of Duke in my musical history, but I’m listening to it right now and love it! May have to get that whole album. -rc

  22. Thanks for the cherry tip! I have subscribed to them on Amazon although the price has gone up. (All your fault!) 🙂 Can’t wait to try these yummies out.


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