Every good cocktail needs a garnish. And my favourite has always been a bright red cherry. Of course Maraschino Cherries have turned into confectionary these days but there are still plenty of traditional recipes that dump the high fructose corn syrup opting instead for Liqueurs and fragrant spices.
Cherries are in season during the Summer months in Australia, but if you don’t mind imports, you can get some in season cherries from the USA in supermarkets during Winter. And now is a great time to get a few jars of these little babies steeping for your Christmas Hampers and Cocktail Parties.
The key ingredient is Cherry Brandy & Amaretto, which you can pick up in the Liqueur section of your local bottle shop. It is what preserves the cherries over the next few months and it creates a sweet traditional flavoured syrup, without using expensive Maraschino Liqueur, that you will find endless uses for long after you have eaten all the cherries.
120gm white sugar
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
Juice of half a Lime
1 Star Anise
1 Cinnamon Stick
1/2 cup Cherry Brandy
1/2 cup Amaretto
1 punnet Fresh Cherries
Start by pitting your cherries.
I found a nifty trick that avoids having to rush out and buy a cherry pitting contraption. Using a thin necked bottle and a plastic straw. Place the cherry over the bottle opening and push the straw through the top of the cherry, pushing the pit through the bottom of the cherry, into the bottle. It takes a little getting used to, but you’ll get the hang of it and you can even manage to keep the stem on some of them!
Place the sugar, water, vanilla, lime juice, star anise and cinnamon stick into the TM Bowl.
Heat for 8 min, 98 degrees, Reverse Speed Soft, MC Off
Add cherry Brandy and Amaretto to bowl and Mix for 20 sec, Reverse Speed 2.
Allow to cool in TM Bowl for 20 – 30 minutes.
To a clean, sterilised jar, add pitted cherries and pour over cooled syrup mixture.
For Christmas gifts, I recommend separating the cherries into a few smaller jars with syrup and sealing, using your preferred method so that you can store in a dark cupboard for the next few months and enjoy the beautiful Almond and Cherry flavours at Christmas time.
But if you simply must try them, give it at least a week to infuse the flavours. Of course once you’ve eaten your way through the Cherries, you will have all of the delicious syrup to use up. Of course Shirley Temples and Cherry Coke are great options, but for a really adult beverage to ease you out of Winter, look out for my Cherry and Apple Mulled Cider.