Dining » Food & Drink

Hot Damn! Cherries

Hill Bar, 2225 Macklind Avenue, 314-773-4455


No, cherries are not a drink -- they're more an accoutrement -- but when soaked in Hot Damn! brand cinnamon schnapps, made by DeKuyper, they come pretty close. And if you let them sit in the Hot Damn! long enough, the cherries -- maraschino, of course -- will start to merge with the liquid, and from there it's more like a drink, yes? Plus, we make the rules around here, and the Drink of the Week this week is Hot Damn! cherries.

A more pretentious, Claytonesque place would probably call these "Hot Damn!-infused Michigan maraschino cherries in sugar-lemon syrup" but that's their problem, not ours. You can get them -- a quarter apiece or five for a buck -- at the Hill Bar, located, not by coincidence, on the Hill. Bartender Sally Meyer recommends getting the five for a buck because these are cherries, and, she adds, holding the jar, "these Queen Annes are getting skimpy. They used to be bigger."

Order five of them -- and toss another buck on the counter for a glass of Bud, because the only beers you're going to find here are A-B products. The proof is on the walls, which are almost entirely covered by A-B neons and signs. Order a beer (just not a Bud Light), watch the hockey game and chat with Mike, who highly recommends Milo's on the Hill for drinks as well (his brother owns the place).

Don't munch down the cherries -- savor them. These aren't peanuts, and you've only got five of them. Suck on them. Squish them between your teeth, sapping every last bit of cinnamonny goodness. Roll them around in your mouth. Ladies -- and gentlemen, for that matter -- practice that tongue-knotting thing with the stem, because that really impresses guys, for some reason. Have fun with them.

Maraschino cherry and cinnamon aren't the subtlest of flavors, so even if you've never had the pleasure, you know exactly what Hot Damn! cherries taste like. If you're grossed out by maraschinos, don't order these, because you'll hate them. Order a Jell-O shot instead; the Hill Bar offers those, too. Or get a Slim Jim or a bag of Planter's Peanuts to savor with your beer.

The goal here isn't to get drunk on cherries. You'd have to eat a whole jar -- and we guarantee that the Red Dye Number 666 would make you vomit long before you felt tipsy. The goal is to try something odd and to try it at a nice little neighborhood bar, the kind where the bartender will ID you with a smile because he or she doesn't know who you are and everyone else here's on a first-name basis. The goal is to sit at a bar and relax, to somehow transcend "Allentown" on the jukebox, to have a beer with nice people and chomp a few red-hot squishies.

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