Reposted in part with permission from Libation Legacy.

When I first started to make my own maraschino hazelnuts, I thought that I had discovered the most obscure lost ingredient of all. Heavy research had turned up meager results, but I was able to use what clues I could find to attempt a re-creation of what was once a commercial product, sold in the finer grocery stores. Now, others are discovering the secret, so I thought they may enjoy some of the details I’ve found.

The cocktail hazelnut may have experienced a comeback in the 1930s, but its origin lies at the very beginning of the twentieth century. The best documentation for both the fad and its resurgence comes from an obscure booklet published by Dr. Jayne’s, a patent medicine company that flourished in Philadelphia in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Outside of early weight-loss pills and hangover cures, the company was most famous for its annual almanac, and today is remembered more for its publications than its potions. In 1933, immediately upon repeal, they saw an opportunity to fill the niche for cocktail recipe books, and contracted to a bartender in New York to develop their own.

Unfortunately, and for whatever reason, Dr. Jayne’s did not see fit to credit the author (hopefully, they paid him). Although he remains anonymous, it seems that he was well-known among his contemporaries behind the stick in the posh hotels and watering holes of Manhattan. Several of these locales are mentioned by name, and he provides details which can be found nowhere else. These include the Hotels Biltmore and Pennsylvania, whose bars, before and after prohibition, were both known for their use of preserved hazelnuts as a cocktail garnish.

Read the rest (including the recipe) over at Libation Legacy.