Mess Hall Cocktail Co., at its origin, was a preserving hobby, as Hans and I lugged home seasonal treasures from the farmers market to make mustards, preserves and pickles. As a chef in the midwest I learned that when the growing season ends, local fruits and vegetables can quickly become a distant memory. That is, unless you’re stocked up on a variety of pickles and preserves to brighten the long winter months. In 2010, we made our first big batch as a fundraiser of sorts, for a trip to France. We toted our jars to our friends house parties, music and art shows. Before long, we were selling our preserves at a handful of specialty food shops around town.
A couple of years ago, we started to notice that most of the cherries garnishing our favorite cocktails were overly sweet with a waxy texture, like they used to be cherries at some moment in time (long, long ago). It didn’t take long to learn why. Most of the American made maraschino cherries are bleached and brined in underground tanks before being injected with color and flavor. And many of the European style cherries are candied in a thick syrup that works for some preferences, but left us wanting more acidity, more complexity, and more textural integrity in the cherry itself.