One of the latest things which has taken the world by storm, or at least my corner of it, is taking the decidedly fanatically,
obsessive Joe-like approach to food and extrapolating it into the cocktail sphere.
The first guilty party to go up against the wall, in matters of food or beverage, is The Artificial Ingredient. So, in pondering the ideal Manhattan cocktail for Speakeasy Month, I was stymied by the fact the cocktail cherry is a concentrated repository of multisyllabic chemical evilosity. Of late, there have been some places where cherries not aswim in an ocean of something-hyde and something else-zoate are available, but at prices which betray their purveyors' wide-eyed innocence regarding purchasing power during The Great Recession.
This leaves me no alternative but to pursue the DIY approach, as I am simply not going to pony up $22.99 for a mere 8oz. Especially when I know the ingredients contained therein add up to a princely $3 at very most.
Before you start to bemoan the effort required to make your own cocktail cherries know this – setting aside the time required for cooling -- a batch takes but a mere 10 minutes.
There are, of course, eleventy gazillion different cocktail cherry recipes, but a good starter cherry recipe is this one:
6 lbs dark, sweet cherries
¾ c sugar
¼ c fresh, strained lemon juice
2 cinnamon sticks
¼ c cherry brandy or liqueur. For this go-around we have Cherry Heering, but the next time it could be Kirchwasser. (You can use brandy, bourbon, pisco, rum, rye, grappa, vodka...etc.)
Put sugar, water, and cinnamon in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low. Add the lemon juice and cherries. Simmer 5 minutes. Remove from burner, fish out the cinnamon sticks, and stir in the liqueur/liquor.
The smart thing to do is to pit the cherries, but I chose to keep the pits for a more complex flavor...and because I couldn't be bothered in my zeal. Next time, I will enlist someone whom I have offsprung to man the pitter. I also chose basic supermarket sweet (NOT SOUR) cherries.
These cherries are amazing.
You will need to make extra, because you will ingest half of them warm right from the stove. These will definitely migrate into your supply of vanilla ice cream, and banana splits will suddenly begin to materialize in your life. The ensuing cherry liqueur is also spectacular. Mind you, bereft of chemical escort, the cherries will eventually turn dark at +/-2 weeks, and they hit their peak of color/flavor excellentness at the 1 week mark.
Try this, I totally exhort you.
Posted by JMG at 4:30 PM