Homemade Cocktail Cherries: These ripe, fresh cherries are jarred in a spiced brandy mixture for a few weeks and perfect in any dark cocktail. So much better than the store-bought bright red version! | macheesmo.com
Easy Eats

Homemade Cocktail Cherries

A few weeks ago when I introduced you all to the beauties of roasted cherry vinaigrette, a lovely reader (Hi Nina!) asked if I’ve ever made cocktail cherries. The answer was no, but it seemed like a no brainer. After all, a good jar of cocktail cherries is super-expensive and if you buy cherries in season, they are dirt-cheap!

So it turned out to be one of my quickest turnarounds for a reader suggestion. I tried them out the same week and after a few weeks in the fridge, this is the result: Absolute cocktail cherry beauty.

Most importantly, these are super-easy to make. The hardest part is pitting the cherries and with a little patience anybody can master that.

If you’re a cocktail lover (especially of the whiskey variety), having a big jar of these in the fridge is a REALLY good idea.

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Yield
About 40 cherries
Prep Time
Total Time

Just a moment please...

Yum

Homemade Cocktail Cherries

Homemade cocktail cherries using fresh cherries and a simple spiced brandy mixture. The hardest part is the waiting…

Ingredients

1 pound fresh cherries, pitted
1 1/2 cups brandy
1 cup water
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 lemon, juice only
1 orange, peel only
1 cinnamon stick
10 allspice berries

Helpful Equipment:

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Directions

1) Wash cherries well and pit them. You can leave the stems on or remove them. If you don’t have a cherry pitter, you can use a chopstick to pit the cherries. Start with the smaller end of the chopstick to make a whole in the cherry, then poke the pit out with the larger end.

2) In a small pot, combine brandy, water, sugar, lemon juice, orange peel, cinnamon stick, and allspice berries. Bring to almost a simmer to dissolve the sugar and then remove from heat.

3) In a large wide-mouthed CLEAN jar, pile in all the pitted cherries. Pour over the hot brandy mixture.

4) Seal the jar tightly with a canning lid and let cool at room temperature. Then transfer to fridge and let sit for at least two weeks in the fridge.

Serve as a garnish on any dark liquor drink… really good in an old fashioned or any whiskey drink.

Dealing with Cherries

These are beautiful, but they are a pain in the butt.

Fresh cherries.

Yes please!

You have to remove the pits before you can use these in a cocktail. It opens up the cherry a bit so the brandy flavor can penetrate but it makes it easier to eat!

If you are making a lot of cherry things, just buy a cherry pitter. If you are like me (stubborn) you can also use a chopstick!

I use the small end of the chopstick to make a hole in the cherry and use the wider end of the chopstick to poke the pit out.

I think “tedious” is the word I would use.

PItted cherries.

The hard part.

Brandy and Such

Once the cherries are pitted, this recipe is simple. Stir together the other ingredients in a small pot and bring it to a simmer until the sugar is dissolved.

I recommend removing the allspice berries after the mixture cooks just because it would be terrible if one got stuck in a cherry and you bit into it later.

Homemake cocktail cherries.

Brandy mix.

Then add the cherries to a large (quart) wide-mouth mason jar and pour in all the brandy mixture!

It’ll smell really good so get ready for it.

Homemade cocktail cherries.

Smells GOOD.

The Waiting is The Hardest Part

Time is really the hardest ingredient here. Once everything is in the jar, seal it tightly and let it cool slowly at room temperature. Then the cocktail cherries needs to chill in the fridge for at least two weeks, but longer is better!

I popped my jar open after two weeks and they were delicious. I suspect they will only get better.

Because these are being stored in alcohol, they should keep fine in the fridge for close to a year. There’s no way a jar will make it through winter though at my house.

Homemade cocktail cherries.

YUM.

In fact, I have a hard time opening the jar without popping a few extra in my mouth.

This whole jar cost me about $8 to make and I’d guess a comparable amount of luxury cocktail cherries would cost $30.

Not bad, but most importantly, really good.

Homemade Cocktail Cherries: These ripe, fresh cherries are jarred in a spiced brandy mixture for a few weeks and perfect in any dark cocktail. So much better than the store-bought bright red version! | macheesmo.com

Homemade Cocktail Cherries: These ripe, fresh cherries are jarred in a spiced brandy mixture for a few weeks and perfect in any dark cocktail. So much better than the store-bought bright red version! | macheesmo.com

6 comments on “Homemade Cocktail Cherries

  1. Hi, Nick!

    This sounds amazing. I knew you could do it. What other blog gives this kind of service to its readers? Come on, nobody does!

    Happy to have inspired this quick turn-around. Can’t wait to try the recipe (although, dammit, I used to have a cherry/olive pitter and I think its long gone).

    On behalf of my future Manhattans, I thank you in advance.

    xo, Nina

  2. Hi Nick! Great recipe! I love would love to make some of these for my dad. Do you happen to know if I could can these for preserving?

  3. Ah! I can’t wait to make these. Totally going to 1 up my cocktail game. One question though, and I’m pretty sure I know the answer already, but could I make these with frozen cherries? I just don’t know if I can find “fresh” cherries right now, and they probably wouldn’t be very good if I could. If not, I will be anxiously awaiting cherry season :).

    Thank you for this recipe!

    1. Hey Stella, I think you could use frozen actually… frozen are already cooked a bit so they probably need less time to sit to absorb the flavor, but will also have a different texture. I think they would be good though and still better than store-bought and cheaper than the super-high-end cherries! Good luck!

  4. Nick, I would love to make these for gifts. Stella on 11/24/15 asked if you thought these could be preserved. I actually think she means canned in a hot water canner. Do you have any idea?

    1. Hey Annice, I THINK it would work fine. The syrup is sweet enough and boozy enough that I don’t see why you couldn’t. That said, I haven’t actually tried it… what I can tell you is that if you keep them in the fridge, they are totally fine for months. I’m still eating on the batch I made for this post six months later! Here’s some more ideas on cherry preserving which may help: http://www.thekitchn.com/10-ways-to-preserve-cherries-172442
      Good luck!

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