Friday, October 3, 2014

The History of Maraschino

The Marasca cherry, better known in the English-speaking world as the maraschino cherry, is a type of Morello cherry (wild cherry) indigenous to the region of Dalmatia, first attested in the 14th century. It is cultivated especially in Italy and in the former Italian city of Zara.

The world famous liqueur known as Maraschino is derived from the fermented marasca cherry. It was invented in Zara in 1730 by an Italian pharmacist from Bergamo named Barolomeo Ferrari and an Italian cafe owner from Dalmatia named Giuseppe Carceniga (also spelled Calceniga). Their technique was later developed and perfected by the Venetian merchant Francesco Drioli, originally from Istria, who founded the Fabbrica di Maraschino Francesco Drioli in 1759 in Zara, and began bottling and selling the liqueur. This Italian liqueur became the first product of Dalmatia to be exported overseas. It gained international fame, and earned a positive reputation among such notable men as King George IV of England, King Louis XVIII of France, Napoleon and the Tsar Nicholas I of Russia. Soon after its popularity spread, many other factories were established around Zara which began producing maraschino liqueur.

Vintage poster of Luxardo Maraschino in Zara
After Drioli, the most popular brand of Maraschino which arose was Luxardo, founded in Zara in 1821 by Girolamo Luxardo, an Italian businessman from Genoa. The brands of Drioli (founded in 1759) and Luxardo (founded in 1821), together with the later Italo-Vlach company of Romano Vlahov (founded in 1861), would go on to dominate the maraschino liqueur industry of Zara (called la città del maraschino—the city of maraschino) until the period of the Second World War.

During the Second World War, Allied bombings destroyed much of Zara, including the old distilleries. The Yugoslav bands of Josip Broz Tito, the future Communist dictator, occupied the city in 1944. Two members of the Luxardo family, Pietro Luxardo and Nicolò Luxardo (together with his wife), were murdered by the Yugoslavs. The survivors of the family fled to Italy, where they re-founded the company in 1947. The Drioli family also fled to Italy, together with thousands of other Italians who were driven from Dalmatia by the Yugoslavs at the end of the Second World War. The owners of Romano Vlahov sold their brand to the Italian company of Casoni in Modena.

After the war, the city of Zara was annexed to Yugoslavia. The Yugoslav Communists seized all industrial assets and machinery, rebuilt the old Luxardo distillery and re-bottled the liqueur under the new brand name “Maraska”. This brand continues to be sold today in Croatia, and is one of the most popular brands of maraschino liqueur in Croatia.

The “scholars”, “historians” and institutions of the former Yugoslav countries have been known to engage in a historical revisionism which equals – if not surpasses – that of Stalinist Bolshevism in Russia. The Yugolavs not only murdered members of the Luxardo family and drove the remainder of them out of Zara, but they stole the old industries, imitated the recipe, and claimed that the liqueur was their own discovery and invention. Croatia today carries on the Yugoslav revisionist tradition and continues to market maraschino liqueur as a “Croatian” invention, in order to stimulate business, increase exports, and build national prestige—a prestige built on lies, theft and murder.

The ruins of the maraschino factories in Zara