Forget those preternaturally red cherries usually found atop ice-cream sundaes. When it comes to candied-fruit garnishes, Indy bars are upping the cool quotient of their cocktails by marinating their own fruits. St. Elmo’s 1933 Lounge (127 S. Illinois St., 317-635-0636), for example, embellishes its signature Elmo Cola with bourbon-drenched cherries good enough to eat on their own. And Cerulean (339 S. Delaware St., 317-870-1320) chef-owner Caleb France stocks up on cherries in season for housemade maraschinos. He also muddles red plums and sugar with rye for a sweet-tart sipper, and macerates watermelon for the simple-syrup base of his Freya cocktail. At the Omni’s Severin Bar (40 W. Jackson Pl., 317-396-3623), cherries take a bath in Luxardo liqueur before dropping into top-shelf Manhattans; the bar also pickles its own veggies to jazz up Bloody Marys. Meanwhile, Black Market (922 Massachusetts Ave., 317-822-6757), soaks the likes of apples, strawberries, lychees, and prickly pear in vinegar for its tangy shrubs. “We pickle the fruits for a few weeks, strain out the solids, and add sugar to the juice,” says co-owner Ed Rudisell. “By preserving fresh fruit while it’s in season, we’re able to serve apple cocktails year-round, make strawberry cocktails in the fall, and garnish our Manhattans with Michigan cherries throughout the winter.”
This article appeared in the September 2013 issue.