Giada De Laurentiis Puts An Italian Spin On The Old Fashioned With Amarena Cherries

As classic and smooth as an old fashioned cocktail recipe might be, the boozy favorite offers a solid foundation for experimentation and flavor varieties. For Giada De Laurentiis, that playfulness comes in the form of cherries taken from Northern Italy. De Laurentiis uses the syrup that Amarena cherries come packed in to sweeten her old fashioned cocktails, leaving out sugar or simple syrup and letting the rich cherry substitute bring depth to the drink. 

When looking for these distinctive cherries in the market, pay attention to packaging. Amarena cherries can be sold in pieces, whole, soaking in syrup, or drained. To imitate De Laurentiis' old fashioned recipe, however, reach for the cherries that come bathing in the dulcet syrup you'll use to sweeten the drink. The cherries themselves can be used to garnish drinks, and for those who still want to see a touch of citrus crowning their old fashioned cocktail, they can be paired easily with a twist for a complementary and satisfying sipper.

Sipping la dolce vita

Amarena cherries can be traced to the early 20th century in Bologna, Italy. Gennaro and Rachele Fabbri had a bunch of Amarena cherry trees on their property, but when eaten straight off the tree, these small pieces of fruit weren't exactly enjoyable to consume. In a burst of inspiration, Rachele decided to simmer the cherries in fruit juice and wound up with a much more tasty treat that could be used in other recipes. Whether paired with cheese or stirred into beverages, this syrupy cherry sauce was a recipe worth preserving. 

Today, Rachele's original recipe is still being used by Amarena Fabbri to make syrupy black cherries. Carefully harvested batches result in a tart, sweet ingredient that can elevate desserts and be added to fillings. After enjoying tonight's cocktails and finding yourself with a surplus of cherries left over, there are plenty of other ways to use the luxurious-tasting fruit. Can't seem to find Amarena cherries? Use Luxardo maraschino cherries, instead, and be sure to toast to la dolce vita. As Giada De Laurentiis would say, "Cin cin."