Sour Cocktail Cherries


Whenever I visit Seattle with David there’s always lots of drinking. We like to visit all of our favorite bars that we would visit when we lived there and make sure that they are still good.  But it’s also a good excuse to escape the stress of family commitments.

Last time I visited Seattle, all of my favorite cocktail bars were using these super fancy cocktail cherries in all of their drinks. I asked the bartender at Skillet, a retro style diner, what kind of cherries they were using. He said that their cherries were $300 a jar (although I’m pretty sure that was some kind of barrel that wouldn’t fit into my fridge!). They were dark purple and completely delicious in the rosemary infused cocktail I had that night.

When I decided to make my own the problem was figuring out where to get the cherries. There are plenty of recipes out there that ask for fresh sour cherries. Sour cherries are amazing, tart fruits, that have a season about as long as a weekend. I am not really able to can fruit either so I was left looking for dried fruits that could be constituted (and the bars weren’t using fresh either from the look of it).


Trader Joe’s to the rescue! They have a bag of dried sour cherries (they called them “tart”) that was reasonable and since I hadn’t found any cherries elsewhere I was ready to start. Most recipes call for cognac, spices and sugar. We thought that the cherries were sour and didn’t need sugar to come out delicious. Spices also didn’t make sense (have you ever tasted spice in your cocktail cherries at a bar?).



So we decided on a two ingredient recipe. Dried sour cherries and cognac. Only caveat, they take a long time to marinate. As in weeks. One week isn’t enough (oh we tasted!). Three weeks was enough for the cherries to really mellow out and get perfect for a Manhattan. This isn’t so bad at the end of the day (or weeks) because you can reuse the cognac from your first batch as you make more!


You need to get a jar, maybe an old jam jar like what I used. Then you need some cognac that you would sip after dinner for a special occasion. Throw a few handfuls of cherries into the jar. Pour enough cognac into the jar to cover the cherries and refrigerate for two or three weeks. The cherries will end up with a great combination of cherry and cognac flavor. Since our recipe doesn’t ask for any sugar they will be tart and especially delicious with a sweet cocktail. (And still delicious with a Manhattan).


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