It’s that time of year again when well-meaning restaurants and bars looking to embrace the cherry blossom mania start rolling out themed food and drink specials. Except instead of incorporating actual cherry blossoms, they almost always offer cherry cocktails and cherry doughnuts and cherry… well, everything.
So, as peak bloom approaches, I am here to offer a friendly reminder: cherries are not cherry blossoms.
The Tidal Basin trees you’ll soon see flooding your Instagram feed don’t produce the fruit you eat. Yes, there are cherry-bearing trees in the region, but the season typically doesn’t even begin until June—long after all the cherry margaritas and cherry pancakes have disappeared from menus. It’s sweet irony (seriously, way too sweet) that businesses looking to boost their local and seasonal cred do so with ingredients that are not at all local or seasonal. Don’t even get me started on the fact that cherries are DC’s “official fruit.”
I get it, cherry blossoms are less readily available, including in tea or syrup form. They also have a much more subtle flavor that most people aren’t familiar with. There are no cherry blossom Jolly Ranchers and Starbursts to get nostalgic about. But some have successfully embraced the Japanese specialty: Bon Matcha, for example, has offered a very good, lightly floral sakura soft-serve ice cream that hopefully will return this spring. Cocktail bars like Silver Lyan and Columbia Room have also offered excellent drinks with real cherry blossoms.
Perhaps most importantly, cherry flavor—especially the artificial stuff—just isn’t very good. (Sorry, but it tastes like Robitussin. Don’t @ me.)
So please, please, no more cherry. This has been a public service announcement.