I have been reading Wilkie Collin’s novella The Haunted Hotel and it has left me with a longing for a tumbler of hot Maraschino Punch.

Maraschino punch would be better than weak tea.

Maraschino punch features in The Haunted Hotel.

For those who haven’t read the book, there is a link to a plot summary at the end of this piece.

One night the character Francis Westwick meets his brother’s widow, the sinister Countess Narona, in Venice’s St. Mark’s Square. They are close to the famous Florian Café. ‘Take me in there’, she said. ‘I must have something to revive me,’

The Florian cafe in Venice, where Countess Narona ordered Maraschino punch.

The Countess gives her order to the waiter, ‘Maraschino. And a pot of tea.’ What follows is such an evocative passage; my favourite in the whole book.

The waiter stared; Francis stared. The tea was a novelty (in connection with Maraschino) to both of them. Careless whether she surprised them or not, she instructed the waiter, when her directions had been complied with, to pour a large wine-glass-full of the liqueur into a tumbler, and to fill it up from the teapot. ‘I can’t do it for myself,’ she remarked, ‘my hand trembles so.’ She drank the strange mixture eagerly, hot as it was. ‘Maraschino punch – will you taste some of it?’ she said. ‘I inherit the discovery of this drink. When your English Queen Caroline was on the Continent, my mother was attached to her Court. That much injured Royal Person invented, in her happier hours, maraschino punch. Fondly attached to her gracious mistress, my mother shared her tastes. And I, in my turn, learnt from my mother. Now, Mr Westwick, suppose I tell you what my business is. You are manager of a theatre, Do you want a new play?

The odd thing is that Maraschino is said to have hastened the death of George IV, who famously rejected Caroline on first sight. He was so revolted by his future bride that he called for a glass of brandy to restore him. Mind you, brandy was just part of profligate George’s alcohol intake. Increasingly, it included Maraschino;

By the time of his accession George was drinking not only half-pints of gin and wine by the bottle, but also copious quantiles of whisky……As he grew older, this was regularly supplemented by glass upon glass of the cloyingly sweet cherry liqueur which became his preferred tipple ‘Maraschino’.

The king died as an obese, laudanum dependent alcoholic.

Is that Maraschino I spy in the royal decanters? You could say that it delivered him the final ‘punch’ (sorry!) 😛


  1. I do enjoy your stories, and appreciate the research which must often lie behind them. Now I rather want to try maraschino punch too!! An easier solution would be concentrated blackberry and/or cherry juice (non-alcoholic) with hot water.

    • Pauline

      Thanks Nancy. Somehow I don’t think the punch would have the same, well…punch without the alcohol though. When I was working in London years ago my boss and I would start the day with concentrated blackcurrant juice and hot water, that wasn’t too bad. 😍

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