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Jul 1, 2006 02:32 PM

Brandied Sour Cherries

A few days ago, on the Spirits board, in a discussion of Maker's Mark Manhattans, JudiAU said ";-) And don't forget to start branding your sour cherries for your garnish right now." Bourbon Manhattans are my winter drink, but I just found fresh sour cherries at my local farmer's market and wanna be prepared. Any tips on what brandy to use? Other spirits? Do you need to add sugar? I'm guessing they last just about forever, true? But what would be minimum recommended soaking time? A month?

Any and all tips appreciated.

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  1. I put several jars up last year using Maraschino liquer. Just pack ther cherries in a mason jar, fill with the liquer or brandy, put the lid on and leave it in a cool dark place fro at least a month.

    1. You don't need to spend money on fine brandy: a cheapie from California like E&J will do the job. (I'm also of the opinion that cheap brandy makes better Sidecars than fine Cognac.) Fresh sour cherries work best, but I've used dry sour cherries when fresh aren't available, and they still kick butt on those heinous red fakies.

      For making my own cocktail cherries, I like to use Maraschino liqueur (Stock and Luxardo are two brands that are pretty widely available in the US). It's a not-too-sweet cherry liqueur made from Dalmatian marasca cherries; the use of the pits in the process adds an almond-like note. (This stuff is also a key ingredient in the lovely Aviation cocktail: a gin cocktail that even my gin-hating friends think is delicious.)

      1. Okie dokie, I've got dried sour cherries and Luxardo on hand. If I mix these in a jar and leave 'em alone until cool weather hits (time to switch from martinis to Manhattans), will I have good cocktail cherries?


        2 Replies
        1. re: Jim Washburn

          Luxardo makes many different products, so you might want to make sure you have Luxardo Maraschino (and not Limoncello or Sambuca, etc.) It only takes a few days to reconstitute dried sour cherries in liquor to the point where they are as plump as they will get and ready to use in cocktails. They will always be a little pruney, not plump spheres. I keep mine in a glass jar on my fridge door.

          1. re: MC Slim JB

            I should have said maraschino; that is, indeed, what I've got. Many thanks. I can hardly wait to try this out.


        2. I checked with Mr. JudiAU and he confirmed that we used Germain Robin for the cherries last year. This produces *really nice* cherry brandy but less expensive brandy would produce good qualities cherries as well. I just posted the complete recipe on "have you started your summer booze" or something like that....

          2 Replies
          1. re: JudiAU

            "I just posted the complete recipe on "have you started your summer booze" or something like that...."

            Just did a search on your name and didn't find it. Do you have a link at hand? Or do you remember which board?

            1. re: JoanN

              Here it is


              One question: it seems that some on this thread are talking about making cherries (that taste like brandy) and others are talking about making brandy (that tastes of cherries). I assume this is just an issue of proportions (ie more brandy if you want cherry brandy)? And the Chez Pannisse recipe JudiAU posted on the summer time liquers thread includes sugar--have others had good results without adding sugar?

          2. The proportions I posted makes lots of cherries preserved in brandy. The cherries themselves are the point-- the cherry-flavored brandy is a happy byproduct.

            =( And they don't have any more sour cherries at the market so my Manhattans are going to be sad all winter. And we ate the sour cherry yesterday.

            1 Reply
            1. re: JudiAU

              Your poor Manhattans! I can't bear the thought of them being sad all winter.

              As a possible solution, I suggest getting some canned (jarred) or frozen sour cherries and soak them in Maraschino or Brandy. They're not the same as fresh sour cherries, but they're better than nothing!

              I buy sour cherries from my local Middle-Eastern deli. (Zergut brand in syrup - I pour out the syrup and pour in the alcohol.) Or buy them online at


              And I think I've heard that Whole Foods or Trader Joe's might occasionally have frozen sour cherries.

              Good luck cheering up your Manhattans!