Our mission is simple; to make the best cherries for craft cocktails.
The recipe has gone through dozens of iterations until we landed on our Great Lakes Edition, a gentle and warming blend of tart balaton cherries, demerara sugar, vanilla bean, rose petals, tellicherry black peppercorn, star anise and a generous glug of bourbon.
This is a cherry designed to taste like…..wait for it…a real cherry, full of bright cherry flavor and a complexity that has you wanting another one when you get to the end of your drink. Mess Hall Cocktail Co. cocktail cherries are meant to be used with all liquors across all cocktail applications. Muddle them, use them as a garnish, or eat them straight out of the jar.
We are dedicated to working with the best small farmers and co-packers we can, and we purchase the finest ingredients we can get our hands on.
Our beginnings came from wanting to support our Midwestern farmer friends and our Great Lakes Edition is dedicated to these cherry growers. We are beyond proud that our cherries, jars and even our labels all come from Michigan, and we preserve the cherries in Michigan as well.
We didn’t start out making cocktail cherries. We began our canning journey the same as many others, making mustards and jams. As a chef in the midwest I learned that when the growing season ends, local fruits and vegetables can quickly become a distant memory unless you’re stocked up on a variety of pickles and preserves to brighten the long winter months.
And then one summer day I went to the farmers market to pick up some blueberries for a batch of blueberry bergamot jam and I saw the cherries farmer Pete was growing. They looked gorgeous and tasted so vibrant and incredible. Then I picked up my eggs from another farmer friend and she had the same balaton variety of cherry too. I went home with my farmers market goodies and couldn’t stop thinking about those cherries.
Around the same time my cocktail loving husband and I started to notice that most of the cherries garnishing our 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 American maraschino cherries are bleached and brined in underground tanks before being injected with color and “flavor”. Many of the European made cherries are candied in a thick syrup that works for some preferences but left us wanting more acidity, more complexity and more real cherry texture.
We thought about the hundreds of acres of cherry orchards near us in Wisconsin and Michigan. We thought about craft cocktails and how the best cocktails are balanced. So we bought a basket of cherries from one of our farmer friends and made a small batch for fun. Before long we put all our energy into making cocktail cherries.
In 2017, Tim O’Rourke came on board as a partner and we could not be happier about it. A long time supporter of midwestern growers and specialty food manufacturing, Tim is bringing his lifelong food business skills to the table. This is a welcome relief for the chef and artist who started on this journey not sure where we headed aside from a good cocktail.
Our goal today is the same as it is today. We aim to support midwest cherry growers, making a complex cocktail cherry for the high quality of craft cocktails being stirred, shaken and poured across the globe.
Even as we grow, our process stays the same. We preserve our cherries by hand with demerara sugar, a splash of bourbon and hints of black peppercorn, star anise, cinnamon bark and rose petals—just enough to put the spotlight on the beautiful balaton cherry and the cocktail it graces.