Are you as in love with cocktails as I am? I love all the ritual, the flavors and all the care that goes into a truly good cocktail preparation. I think it all stems back to when I was a very small girl, and my parents would go out for a rare evening in Manhattan. They would come home, and my mother would come to check on us, after the babysitter left, and she would smell faintly of Manhattan's and smoke. I loved that smell, because it meant she was home!
As I may have mentioned before, Tim is a beer aficionado, and I don't mean he drinks tons of Bud. So, I have been turning him on to wine and spirits. I have yet to make him a gin lover, but that might happen one day! So, we go out for a cocktail as a grown up night cap when we get the chance. We have a new cocktail establishment in Funky Ferndale, MI called The Oakland Art Novelty Company and they make most of their own “stuff”, including their own preserved cherries. We also have a local restaurant called The Atlas Bistro, and they make their own bitters and cherries too. I have about 8 different types of bitters on my cocktail table, and I have found a way to use all of them, with the exception of the mint... I think I will save that for the Grasshoppers I have been dying to make! All that being said, my beloved Manhattan wouldn’t be the same without a rosy cherry waiting for me in the bottom of the glass!
I decided after having several cocktails with their house made cherries in them at Atlas that I really needed to learn to make my own. So, when we were at a summer get together at Tim’s cousin Allison’s house, and there was a sour cherry tree in her yard just bursting with cherries, I picked many and took them home, determined that I would do it. Here are two attempts in one recipe. One is with honeyed bourbon, and the other is with the delicious, if a bit sweet to drink alone, maraschino liqueur. I honestly liked the honey bourbon upon first blush, but I have to admit, the maraschino cherries really are my fave now. I can’t explain it, since they are nothing like the jarred varieties we all grew up eating on ice cream sundaes…. they are just wonderful. All will keep indefinitely in the fridge, as long as you make sure they’re covered well and covered with liquid at all times. Good luck! It also has to be mentioned that I am posting this at the behest of my friend Manny.
Honey Bourbon or Actual Maraschino Cherries
Two cups of sour cherries, pitted
1 ½ cups of bourbon or maraschino liqueur (must be good quality)
½ cup of honey, or ½ cup sugar
In a heavy bottomed small pot off the heat, combine the sugar and maraschino liqueur, or the honey and bourbon and stir well until the honey or sugar is dissolved. Place on a medium flame, being careful to stir gently, but not so vigorously as to splash and ignite the liquor. Eventually the liquid will come to a boil, so let it biol for a minute or so, then turn off the flame, and remove the pot from the heat. Carefully add the pitted cherries, and return to the heat, and cook over a medium flame for 10 minutes. Since they’re pitted, the cherries won’t pop, but they should swell and start to bleed some of their color out. Once they’ve cooked, take them off the heat and allow them to cool down enough so you can pour them safely into a container for storing. At this point if you want to can them, you can. If not just put them in your fridge and allow to cure at least overnight. At the best, you want them to cure for three full days, then you can eat them, or use them in your fave drinks.
It should be noted that you can use ANY kind of cherry here, no matter what the ratio is equal parts cherries, and alcohol (combined with sweetener if you're using it) ... I imagine yellow Rainier's would be really interesting! But the sours are really the least sweet, and so they compliment the liquor. If you do use black cherries, I would omit the sugar/honey completely. Also, if you come upon this new "craze" honey bourbon (I have seen a Jim Beam variety of this already) just omit the honey and use 2 cups of the bourbon.
Let me know how it goes, and what you use them for!