With basic canned cherries accomplished, I thought it might be fun to try a twist on preserving the rest of the cherries. I'd seen 'bourbon cherries' in gourmet shops...fresh whole cherries swimming in bourbon, adding that smoky oakiness to the cherries, and the cherries giving their sweetness to the bourbon. Here's how to do it at home:
Step One. Rinse and pit the cherries, discarding the pits, stems, and leaves.
Step Two. Wash the canning jars, lids, and rings in a hot water bath, and then fill the jars, up to one-half inch, with the cherries.
Step Three. Fill the jars with bourbon. Since you probably plan on consuming the bourbon later (rather than just mascerating the cherries), chose a high quality spirit that you would actually consume on its own.
Step Four. Because of (obviously) high alcohol content, it may not be necessary to process the cans to seal the lids, but I don't wanna take any risks, or waste any of the goodness, so I recommend processing the cans as detailed in Part II.
Use 'em. These would make wonderful gifts, and using them in cocktails would be infinitely better than a maraschino. But my favorite option? A Manhattan Float, a la my amazing, local splendid ice creamery, Jeni's.
- 1/4 bourbon cherries
- two scoops vanilla ice cream
- 1 cup gourmet cherry soda or three tablespoons cherry syrup and 3/4 cup sparkling water
- whip cream
Place the bourbon cherries in the bottom of a cold glass, then top with ice cream. Pour the soda atop (you could add a bit more bourbon or a dash of bitters or vermouth for a more authentic Manhattan taste), and then cover with whip cream.