There’s a reason no one writes love songs about endless winters and cold, dreary days. Even when it’s hot and muggy, summer is hands down, feet in the sand more fun. “Hot Fun in the Summertime,” “Summer Breeze,” “Sunny Afternoon,” Under the Boardwalk”… summer is the year’s time to frolic, to travel, to explore and fun to eat and relax with a drink.
One of the best parts about summer is the abundance of fresh, vibrant produce, especially cherries and berries. A couple of years ago I wrote about how to make the most of the last of the green market sour cherries for your cocktails. This year, (perhaps age really does have its advantages?), I have my act together a little sooner.
A trip to the farmer’s market yields an abundance of goodies, not just those coveted sour cherries, which will only be available for a couple more weeks. It’s also blueberry season. – the best blueberries you’ll eat all year. Might as well make them last by preserving those in booze too! Why should cherries get all the attention?
Here are two recipes for preserving sour cherries for cocktails, as well as a bonus recipe for brandied blueberries you can use for cocktail garnishes or however you want to consume boozy fruit (no judgements here, especially if you eat them with ice cream or spread them on toast with some soft cheese). The cherries have the lasting potential of seven months to a year if kept sealed tightly in the fridge. However, the blueberries are more fragile. It’s best to consume these within the week for best results. Although the worst that can happen is they ferment a bit or lose their shape, in which case you could always turn them into a boozy jam, sauce, crumble or pie filling.
For the cherry recipes, you could also substitute sweet cherries for the sour ones, but use only half the sugar syrup than the recipe calls for.
It is crucial that you sterilize your jars before using! Boil for at 15 minutes and keep them in the boiled water until ready to use.
Rum Vanilla Cocktail Cherries
1 lb/.45 kg Sour Cherries (pitted or with pits, you weigh the merits. Personally I like them pitted and have invested in a cherry/olive pitter which has completely changed my life.)
½ cup/100 grams Sugar (granulated or demerara)
½ cup/118 mL Water
1 cup/236 mL Dark or Gold Rum
1 Vanilla Bean
1 Stick Cinnamon (optional)
Heat the sugar and cinnamon, if using, in the water on low until sugar is dissolved. Add the cherries and vanilla. Stir gently to coat. Add the rum and stir again. Allow to cool. Place in jar with a tight seal. Turn upside down once or twice. Store in refrigerator for at least 12 hours before using.
Rye and Amaro Cocktail Cherries
1 lb/.45 kg Sour Cherries
½ cup/100 grams sugar (granulated or demerara. I used demerara for my supply.)
Amanda Schuster is the Senior Editor in Chief of Alcohol Professor and the author of NEW YORK COCKTAILs available from Cider Mill Press. Certified sommelier, former retail spirits and wine buyer - she likes to think of herself as "bi-spiritual." Please don't ever offer her a Pickleback. Complete bio here.