The cherry is the fruit of a flowering tree in the Prunus genus. Though there are dozens of species that are commonly called cherries, only a few few produce edible fleshy stone fruit that are commercially called a cherry, namely P. avium (the wild, or sweet cherry) and P. cerasus (the sour cherry).
The cherry has grown wild since prehistoric times, with a range that stretched from Europe into Asia and northern Africa. Turkey has long grown cherries, and today leads the world in commercial output of the fruit. It was domesticated before the Common Era - the Roman politician Lucullus brought cherry trees back to Rome from Turkey.
Commercially, cherries are divided into sweet and tart types. Sweet cherries (such as Bing, Rainier, and Queen Anne) are typically eaten fresh, and sour cherries (Montmorency, Evans, Balaton) are usually frozen, preserved, or made into pies. Cherries are high in anthocyanins, a class of antioxidants.
Queen Anne cherries are used to make modern Maraschino cherries (which have nothing in common with true Maraschino cherries -- the modern version bleaches the color from the fruit with sodium metabisulfite, dyes them with artificial colors, and packs the cherries in sugar syrup, whereas true Maraschino cherries are literally Marasca cherries preserved in Maraschino, a liqueur made from the pits, stems and fruit of the marasca cherry).
Cherries are used to make eau de vie (usually called Kirsch or Kirschwasser) and liqueurs such as Maraschino, Cherry Heering, or Luxardo's Sangue Morlacco. They are also preserved and used as a cocktail garnish.
Some popular cocktails containing Cherry
- El Corazon — Reposado Tequila, Sweet vermouth, Aperol, Cherry Bitters, Cherry, Grapefruit peel
- The Grandfather — Apple brandy, Sweet vermouth, Bourbon, Peychaud's Bitters, Bitters, Cherry
- The Westie — Irish whiskey, Galliano, Drambuie, Bitters, Brandied cherry, Lemon juice
- Revelation — Rye, Sweet vermouth, Fernet Branca, Orange bitters, Cherry
- Everybody Loves Hugo — Rye, Sweet vermouth, Crème de Cacao, Ancho Reyes Ancho Chile Liqueur, Cherry, Cherry syrup