You can think of this recipe as a template, and you can alter it according to your tastes.
For my most recent batch of cherries, I used fresh cherry juice in place of water in the syrup. To juice cherries, take a half pound of them, stem and pit them, and puree them in a blender with a quarter cup of water. Strain them through fine-mesh strainer to remove skins and other solids.
For the sugar, I used turbinado to add a richer, raw-sugar flavor. If you're the type of home cook who keeps vanilla sugar on hand, try using that, to add a subtle note of vanilla to your cherries.
Speaking of vanilla, if you want a stronger vanilla note, add a vanilla bean into the saucepan alongside, or instead of, the cinnamon stick.
When considering other spices to use in addition to (or instead of) the cinnamon and nutmeg, think about the spices found in cocktail bitters: cardamom, mace, cloves, allspice. Because these flavors already work well in cocktails, they're naturals for cocktail cherries. Happy experimenting!
- 1/2 cup white sugar or turbinado
- 1/2 cup cherry juice or water
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup brandy, maraschino liqueur, aged rum, or any combination of the three
- 1 pound cherries, stemmed and pitted if desired
In medium saucepan, combine sugar, cherry juice (or water), cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Bring to a low simmer. Simmer, stirring until sugar is fully dissolved.
Remove saucepan from heat. Add brandy or other liqueur, and stir to combine.
Add cherries and stir until coated with syrup.
Remove to clean canning jars. Let cool to room temperature and then refrigerate overnight before serving.
medium saucepan, canning jars