INSTEAD OF BESMIRCHING your drinks with those chemical-red sugar bombs from the jar, try this tasty recipe for homemade maraschino cherries, courtesy of Mike McSorley, the bar manager at Naga Cocktail Lounge (chantanee.com). The mixture takes just a few minutes to prepare, but for maximum flavor McSorley suggests leaving the cherries to steep in syrup for one to two weeks.

INGREDIENTS
32 oz Chukar Totally Tart dried cherries
2 oz Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
6 oz Paul Masson VSOP brandy
4 oz R. W. Knudsen unsweetened cherry juice
1 cinnamon stick
½ oz Angostura bitters
12 oz water
4 oz unbleached sugar

DIRECTIONS
Place cherries in a large container with a tight-fitting lid. Combine remaining ingredients in a medium saucepan, heat until mixture comes to a soft boil. Pour hot liquid over cherries, cover, then shake the container vigorously and leave out at room temperature for 4 to 6 hours (or overnight). Refrigerate for 1 to 2 weeks, shaking the container gently every couple of days.