OK, Next Monday is Mixology Monday: Limit One. (See here for details. Get to work, you don’t have much time.) I’m not saying what I’m up to, but it needs Cherries. It is also ridiculously involved. So, in for a penny, in for a pound, I might as well make my own. And since I want another post between now and Monday, I thought I’d chronicle my first batch of Brandied (Maraschino) Cherrys right here, right now.
Now, two of my favorite cocktail bloggers, Gabriel at Cocktail Nerd, and Robert at Explore the Pour (I told you it’d seem like I’m stalking you for a while, Robert!) have already done this. So to put my own spin on it, I’ll be making lemonade out of some circumstantial difficulties, as well as concentrating on my own specialty: Infuriating purists with shortcuts. If you want some great information on the history of those pink things in a jar in every grocery store, along with character assassination of same, read Robert’s post. If you want good thoughts on people who actually are fond of commercial maraschino cherries, and how to make the real thing palatable to that constituency, read Gabriel.
As for my current purposes (foreshadowing, remember?), Brandied Cherries are clearly more appropriate, so make them, I must. But that doesn’t mean I have to take all week to do it! I’ll pop up the recipe, then on with the shortcuts.
(Recipe stolen from Gabe, who stole it from Robert, who, I’m sure, stole from elsewhere)
- 1 lb. Cherries, pitted
- 1/8 cup sugar
- 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
- 1/6 cup water
- 1 small cinnamon stick
- 3 oz maraschino liqueur (Luxardo)
- 1/2 oz brandy
- 1/2 oz orgeat syrup
As you may have noticed, it ain’t Summer right now. Cherries are impossible to find. Further, even if I could lay my hands on perfect, fresh cherries, they would have pits. I don’t like pits. They are the pits. Fortunately, my local grocer (and yours) has a better solution than you might think. Frozen, pitted cherries. Good quality frozen fruit is better than many think. If it was well processed, it even can maintain almost all its original texture. The cherries I found are not as pristine as some frozen blueberries or strawberries I’ve had, but we are stewing the little critters anyway. It saves time, effort, money, and waiting until Summer.
What about stems?
Yeah, stems are fun.
True, no stems. But the main stem player-withers around Chez Winship are our five- and seven-year-olds. They will not be getting these….
Take the sugar, lemon juice, water, and the cinnamon stick, and mix them in a good-sized saucepan. Yes, that one is fine. Bring to a boil, and slide in the cherries. Reduce the heat and simmer for about five minutes, stirring gently but often. As a further shortcut, put that squeezer away and just use RealLemon juice. You know you have some, and after cooking, no human being will ever know the difference.
Reduce heat further and add the maraschino and the cognac. Did I say cognac? Brandy is much cheaper, and again no one will tell the difference. But I only have mid-range cognac around, and so, probably, do you. Don’t waste time and gas going out to buy cheap brandy. It’s a half ounce for crying out loud.
Don’t forget to remove the cinnamon stick! Like a bay leaf, it has done its job.
Turn off the heat and add the orgeat. You can adjust the amount of this you use to suit your wants, needs, and desires. More syrup, more sweet, more like the store-bought cherries. Less syrup, more distinct, more likely to satisfy your inner cocktail snob. Your call. I went slightly to the sweet side, again for reasons that will become clearer Monday. You can find an excellent recipe and method for making Orgeat Syrup here. My only shortcut suggestion is that you might want to try this method as an alternative….
Finally, transfer the cherries and juice to a clean plastic or wide-mouth glass container and refrigerate until your dark and shadowy purposes become clear next week. Or at least until the cherries become cool enough to sneak a few to savor!
There is one last shortcut to take—One that I did not. Unless you want to spend a lot of unnecessary time doing laundry… wear an apron!
Update: First of all, I fixed the post title. I meant
Oooooh! in the half-spooky, full-snarky sense of
aren’t I the meta one?, rather than the
Ohhhhhh! as in this Prince ad:
Well, not quite like the ad, but you know where they are going, and I didn’t want the title of my post to follow.