It’s prime cherry season, and they’re as cheap as they’re going to get on the fruit stand by my apartment. And, truth be told, I’d wanted to make bourbon cherries for a while, ever since my friend Grace made me a Manhattan with cherry bourbon that her grandma had made for her in a jam jar.
“I’m going to make Bourbon cherries,” I announced, feeling pretty adventurous and ground breaking.
“I made Bourbon cherries a few weeks ago,” said Hilary. “I made gin and vodka ones too just to experiment, but the bourbon ones were the best. Really good in drinks.” Since Hilary and her husband Jeremy own the drink cabinet equivalent of The Tardis, it’s a Big Deal for something to get their cocktail making approbation.
I bought the cherries.
The idea couldn’t be simpler; wash and pit the cherries, fill up a clean container ¼ full with them, then top up with a smooth bourbon – nothing too fancy, but something that you like to drink anyway. Put on a shelf for 3 weeks to a month, and give the jar a shake every time you walk past.
The question is one of perspective; are you making Bourbon Cherries – luscious and boozy – perfect folded into cream and crushed meringue for an upscale Eton Mess, added to crumble, or spooned straight from the jar? Or are you making Cherry Bourbon for a ruby red Manhattan or equivalent?
You don’t have to choose; you are making both, it’s just something nice to think about.
My preference for making flavored spirits is to use jam jars – a good size to give away as gifts (with a recipe card gift tag for a Manhattan, perhaps). Also, then, if I don’t like the results, it’s not a tragedy on an epic scale as it might be if I used the gallon Mason jar. It’s very liberating to know that you can experiment like this. The scale is small, but not so small that you get one shot and you’re done. I recommend it.
It’s going to take a little patience, but just think how much you’re going to appreciate the few minutes of prep when Autumn really gets going a month from now and you get to sit in and look out at all that mists and mellow fruitfulness business with a ruby red, cherry scented glass of bourbon in your hand.
Cherry Bourbon / Bourbon Cherries
If you’re expecting a sweet liquor, this is not that. You can sweeten it, of course. About 2 ½ weeks in, add some sugar (less in volume than cherries, about 1/8th to keep with our jar proportions – or more if you prefer).¼ jam jar / Mason jar of cherries ¾ the same jar of bourbon
- Make sure the jar is really clean
- Pitt the cherries
- Combine the ingredients in the jar
- Screw on the lid, place in a cool dark place (kitchen shelf) and shake up a couple of times a day
- Leave for 3 – 4 weeks
Now reward your patience and make a Manhattan