ZADAR - "Maraschino"
Croatia - Dalmatia - Zadar - Maraschino
The Royal pearl of the Maraska Inc. production crown is, without a doubt, Maraschino - the original and noble liqueur originating from Zadar. At the beginning of the 16th Century, the pharmacists of the Zadar's Dominican monastery, devised their own recipe and produced their very first herbal liqueur naming it rosolj (lat. Ros solis).
In subsequent liqueur production attempts the original recipe was gradually changed and perfected. The stem and leaves from young and tender branches of the maraska tree were added into the distilling process in addition to the initial juicy maraska cherry fruits pulp. So the liqueur was given another name Maraschino, the aromatic drink of unusual harmony that was, for a long time, considered to be a medicinal potion.
In 1768, a young scientist, Francesco Drioli came to Zadar from Istria and founded a liqueur company. He introduced contemporary machinery to the production process bringing the distillation of sour cherry maraska to perfect purity and aroma. In 1803 Drioli factory was proclaimed the exclusive workshop, receiving the special coat of arms garnished by an imperial eagle and became the official liqueur supplier of reigning European courts of that era. From then on, Maraschino became a worldly known product present in all European courts.
Maraschino liqueur was being sold in special square shape bottles having a short bottle neck. These bottles were initially produced in a well known city of Murano near Venice, and later, after 1869 in the new glass factory in Zadar. The present company, Maraska Inc. uses these historical bottles as a model for the Maraschino bottles we use today in
order to maintain its image and its distinctive visual identity. In a way, it is also certain homage to its predecessors since the original Maraschino and noble liqueurs culture was gradually being created in a continuous course through time.
F. Drioli was very aware of how important the visual identity could be, especially the identity of a high quality product that deserved to be an obligatory part of various protocols performed in numerous world capitals. So he decided to start with a special bottle wickering technique done by hand, placing in this way a unique product in a unique casing. The special Maraschino taste and unique way of bottle wickering Maraska uses to this day. As a result, enjoying Maraschino taste may take you back in time when it indulged the hedonistic demands of the highest society of that time.
At the beginning of 19th Century the leading liqueur producer was Girolamo Luxardo. By the middle of the century many smaller family liqueur producers emerged in Zadar as well as the liqueur manufacturers from Šibenik such as Vlahov, Magazin, Pivac and Miličić making the Zadar the European capital of liqueur production. This became the most important industry in Zadar and to this day its identity symbol is Maraschino. «That was in that city that produces Maraschino» says Honoré de Balzac in his novel «Voyage into the life» («Un début dans la vie»).
Maraschino, as a prestigious drink, became popular very quickly in all European courts. It was respected and enjoyed by the British king George IV and the queen Victoria, the French kings Louis XVIII, Charles X and Louis Philippe, the Russian tsar Nikola I, Napoleon Bonaparte, marshal Marmont.
The London newspaper «The Morning Post» from June 17th 1779, printed a notice intended for a higher and lower aristocracy, that the large quantities of Maraschino of a superb aroma have just been imported from the Zadar's royal supplier.
Tradition went on and in 1871 Queen Victoria ordered English war ships to retreat from the Mediterranean Sea and load Maraschino supplies for the needs of the British court. The very next year the courts of Vienna, the residence of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, Kingdom of Denmark, Bavaria and many others supplied itself with Maraschino. On September 26th of 1887 the British heir to the throne, still a Prince of Wales at the time, and later the king George IV, visited the factory in Zadar. He called Maraschino the king of all liqueurs and records show that he placed a large order of Maraschino.
There were many famous Maraschino admirers such as the great seducer Giaccomo Casanova, film director Alfred Hitchcock, writers and artists Rudyard Kipling, Somerset Maugham, George Bernard Shaw, Charles Baudelaire, Ernest Hemingway, Orson Wales, Charlie Chaplin, just to name a few. There was also a large shipment of Zadar's Maraschino found in stock on the sunken luxurious cruise ship Titanic.
Maraschino entered an American market finding most admirers in European immigrants and it had cult status in particular with Americans of Italian origin. The prohibition era was a lucrative time for Maraschino sales in America. It was positioned as one of the best liqueurs in the world. Due to the unique sour cherry maraska that makes it noble, the unique recipe and the way of hand bottle wickering, Zadar's Maraschino rightfully owns a special place on the throne amongst other liqueurs.
The Holy See recognized Maraschino's qualities interpolating it into its state protocol. In fact, Maraschino is the only Croatian product that may be bought in Vatican. Maraschino, through time, has managed to keep its authenticity, originality and uniqueness. We believe that Maraschino is on its way to returning to the famous paths of its own history, conquering once again the international heights it once occupied and reclaiming the market position that it so richly deserves. This is our future, deep-rooted in our history and eagerly anticipating tomorrow.
the original text and photos of tourist boards city of Zadar