Summer Sippin’ With a Cherry on Top
I am firmly in the camp of “market-fresh mixology,” so the call of cherry season was hard to resist, as were the local deals on Bing cherries. Of course, eating all of them straight would have been a shame with all this booze in the house.
Instead, I attempted two separate recipes for boozy cherries: brandied cherries and maraschino cherries – the kind with real maraschino liqueur rather than the commercial ones made with artificial flavors, unnatural colors, high fructose corn syrup and perhaps cherries. One recipe was a real winner.
First, I should mention that I am not enamored with the taste of my Luxardo maraschino liqueur. In fact, it is one of the few bottles that I’ve regretted purchasing. So I didn’t really expect to much like the maraschino cherries, but surprises do happen…just not this time. This was disappointing because they keep for 3 months and would have helped keep my summer drink vibe going into fall.
So I will have to be content with my fleeting – but incredibly tasty – brandied cherries. I used this recipe from Imbibe Magazine with delicious results.
Lu’s Brandied Cherries1 lb sweet cherries, pitted ½ c. sugar ½ c. water 2 tsp fresh lemon juice 1 stick cinnamon Pinch of fresh nutmeg 1 tsp vanilla extract 1 c. brandy (I used Metaxa Greek brandy but any should do)
Wash and pit the cherries (warning: my fingernails were stained for days so gloves would be helpful). In a saucepan, combine all ingredients except the cherries and brandy and bring to a rolling boil. When the liquid begins to boil, reduce the heat to medium. Add the cherries and simmer for 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat, add the brandy and let cool. Transfer the cherries into clean jars and refrigerate uncovered until cherries are cool to touch. Cover tightly and refrigerate for 2 weeks.
To showcase my cherries I chose the Cherry Blossom Sling, from my MixShakeStir cocktail book. The book also has a brandied cherries recipe, but I was missing several ingredients. Lu’s worked quite well, and the recipe allowed me to incorporate some of the yummy liquid into the drink.
Cherry Blossom Sling3 brandied cherries, plus a splash of liquid 3 lime wedges 1 ½ oz gin ¼ oz Cherry Heering (a cherry liqueur) ½ oz simple syrup ¼ oz fresh lime juice Splash of soda water Dash of Angostura bitters
Muddle the cherries and lime wedges in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and all ingredients except the soda water and bitters and shake well. Strain into an ice-filled highball glass, add the soda water and bitters, and serve.