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July’s overflowing bins of burgundy-hued Bings and blushing Rainiers are cause for celebration. The deep, sunny flavors sum up summer: sweet, bright, and luxurious. But while local cherry season is brief, we’ve recently noticed a flood of preserved fruit dressing up cocktails and showing up as dessert. Here, a few spots that do the stone-fruit justice.
The Bitter Bar
Boulder mixologist James Lee garnishes his cocktails with Italian-imported, Luxardo-brand Marascas. Lush and rich, these beauties are the original maraschino. Bonus: Lee is canning local cherries to make cocktail-worthy garnishes. 835 Walnut St., Boulder (entrance in alleyway between Walnut and Pearl streets), 303-442-3050
D Bar Desserts
Duck into D Bar and order pastry chef Keegan Gerhard’s latest cherry creation. If you’re lucky, you’ll dig into the Black Forest Cake Waffle—a lusty affair of warm chocolate waffles, three-cherry compote (made from Amarena, Griottine, and farmers’ market cherries), Kirsch cream, and chocolate sauce. 1475 E. 17th Ave., 303-861-4710
Sketch Wine Bar
Alongside a simple menu of salumi and cheeses, chef Sean Yontz serves up a dollop of Amarena cherries—a wild, Italian-grown fruit packed in a candylike syrup. A little goes a long way, especially when paired with pieces of Venezuelan chocolate. 101 Broadway (entrance on First Avenue), Unit 103, 303-484-9305
Steuben’s Food Service
Rather than garnishing his cocktails with a throwaway maraschino, bar manager Sean Kenyon favors real Marascas. These small, black cherries are rich and enchanting—making them the perfect foil for a Manhattan or Old Fashioned. Also not to be missed: the super-creamy, cherry-vanilla milk shake. 523 E. 17th Ave., 303-830-1001