Bottle #24: Morandini Maraschino

Jul 26, 2023

If you watched Reveal Video #4, you will know that I was really quite excited when I unearthed this tiny bottle of Morandini Maraschino. 20 years ago, almost nobody knew what Maraschino liqueur even was. But thanks to cocktail renaissance favorites the Last Word and the Aviation, it has become a well-known ingredient to craft cocktail geeks. And an instantly recognizable one, most of the time, thanks to the Luxardo brand’s distinctive green glass bottle with wicker wrapping.

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While Luxardo is practically synonymous with Maraschino liqueur today, it’s not the originator of this style of cherry liqueur, and through history it’s been made by many other brands. The story of Maraschino liqueur goes back to 1759 in the town of Zadar, located in what is now Croatia but then was the Republic of Venice. There, Francesco Drioli commercialized the production of what was probably a local specialty, a clear liqueur made from the distillation of marasca cherries.

Drioli’s Maraschino became renowned across Europe and was a particular favorite of several royal families. Eventually other companies in Zadar began producing the liqueur as well. This included Luxardo in 1821 and Vlahov in 1861, and these three companies banded together to establish a Maraschino industry in Zadar. The industry there prospered all the way to World War II, but the city and its distilleries was largely destroyed during the war, resulting in all three of the major distilleries leaving the region and reestablishing their businesses in Italy. But if you know anything about mid-20th century drinking trends, it should come as no surprise that Vlahov stopped production in the 1970s, followed by Drioli in the 1980s, and of the big three, only Luxardo remains today.

But even from the earliest days of Maraschino there were competitors and counterfeiters, and many other liqueur companies made their own version of the product. Including, apparently, Morandini, the makers of my tiny bottle. It’s hard to find out much about the Morandini company. They started making liqueurs and spirits in Valcamonica, Italy in 1855. This included some really amazing looking amari, based on collections of mini bottles I found online while researching. But the company was purchased by a company named Marcati in the early 2000s, and that’s basically all I was able to find out about them. The name Morandini lives on in some grappas and liqueurs sold by Marcati, but none of those are Maraschino.

I think maybe this tiny bottle was purchased in Italy – the label is fully Italian, and it has an Italian manufacturing tax label on the back. Maybe if I read Italian I could figure out some clues to date this bottle – one thing I found really interesting is that it actually lists the ingredients, which you almost never see on alcoholic beverages! It does have the e symbol that was introduced to the EU in 1976, so it’s after that. It has a very distinctive red plastic cap, and when I posted a picture of the bottle to a Facebook group of worldwide mini collectors, someone in Italy said that cap was widely used in the 1980s. So that’s my guess as to the date on this one!

Watch me taste this bottle with Camper English.

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Bottle #24: Morandini Maraschino

Jul 26, 2023 |

If you watched Reveal Video #4, you will know that I was really quite excited when I unearthed this tiny bottle of Morandini Maraschino. 20 years ago, almost nobody knew what Maraschino liqueur even was. But thanks to cocktail renaissance favorites the Last Word and the Aviation, it has become a well-known ingredient to craft cocktail geeks. And an instantly recognizable one, most of the time, thanks to the Luxardo brand’s distinctive green glass bottle with wicker wrapping.

While Luxardo is practically synonymous with Maraschino liqueur today, it’s not the originator of this style of cherry liqueur, and through history it’s been made by many other brands. The story of Maraschino liqueur goes back to 1759 in the town of Zadar, located in what is now Croatia but then was the Republic of Venice. There, Francesco Drioli commercialized the production of what was probably a local specialty, a clear liqueur made from the distillation of marasca cherries.

Drioli’s Maraschino became renowned across Europe and was a particular favorite of several royal families. Eventually other companies in Zadar began producing the liqueur as well. This included Luxardo in 1821 and Vlahov in 1861, and these three companies banded together to establish a Maraschino industry in Zadar. The industry there prospered all the way to World War II, but the city and its distilleries was largely destroyed during the war, resulting in all three of the major distilleries leaving the region and reestablishing their businesses in Italy. But if you know anything about mid-20th century drinking trends, it should come as no surprise that Vlahov stopped production in the 1970s, followed by Drioli in the 1980s, and of the big three, only Luxardo remains today.

But even from the earliest days of Maraschino there were competitors and counterfeiters, and many other liqueur companies made their own version of the product. Including, apparently, Morandini, the makers of my tiny bottle. It’s hard to find out much about the Morandini company. They started making liqueurs and spirits in Valcamonica, Italy in 1855. This included some really amazing looking amari, based on collections of mini bottles I found online while researching. But the company was purchased by a company named Marcati in the early 2000s, and that’s basically all I was able to find out about them. The name Morandini lives on in some grappas and liqueurs sold by Marcati, but none of those are Maraschino.

I think maybe this tiny bottle was purchased in Italy – the label is fully Italian, and it has an Italian manufacturing tax label on the back. Maybe if I read Italian I could figure out some clues to date this bottle – one thing I found really interesting is that it actually lists the ingredients, which you almost never see on alcoholic beverages! It does have the e symbol that was introduced to the EU in 1976, so it’s after that. It has a very distinctive red plastic cap, and when I posted a picture of the bottle to a Facebook group of worldwide mini collectors, someone in Italy said that cap was widely used in the 1980s. So that’s my guess as to the date on this one!

Watch me taste this bottle with Camper English.

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