A couple of weeks ago I asked folks on Twitter, ‘What should I do next; orange or cherry liqueur?’ The resounding response was for cherry so I went on a Google journey to find the best method for making it as it’s not something I’ve done before. I found several versions and I’m sure they are all great but the one thing I just could not handle? SIX MONTHS? My impatient self struggled with waiting one month for Limoncello yet knew that I still shared that recipe in time for readers and friends to make something to enjoy this summer. It just seemed impossible to consider that I would share the process of making cherry liqueur and say, ‘See you in 6 months for a cocktail.’ So I punted.
I recalled seeing Matt Armendariz make a Cherry Sidecar using fresh cherries and brandy and at the time I wasn’t interested in waiting 5 days but I thought I could handle that now; especially in comparison to 6 months. Matt had made a cherry/brandy liqueur to replace the traditional brandy and orange liqueur in a sidecar. This version using fresh cherries is so perfectly seasonal and the type of cocktail I love; a bit sweet and a bit tart and certainly a lot beautiful!
This was certainly my own ‘Cherrypalooza’ – the cocktail consists of a liqueur that is a combination of brandy infused cherries, a cherry syrup that is made from more fresh cherries and sugar and then garnished using the maraschino cherries I made a couple of months ago that combines cherries and Luxardo liqueur for a much more natural and tasty treat.
Matt’s version was his attempt to recreate a cocktail he enjoyed at Hatfield’s in LA. I’ve not had the Hatfield’s cocktail but I have to say, this was not just a great combination of flavors; it was also an absolutely gorgeous drink. Start now and you can have one next weekend; that’s better than waiting until Christmas for something, right? I’ve done a bit of my own revising; I like it served cold on the rocks and with a sugared rim; that little bit of sugar seemed perfect with the tart bite of the cocktail itself but it’s totally optional; sugar only if you want to!
A Fresh Cherry Sidecar
For the Cherry Brandy:
- 1 pound fresh sweet cherries pitted and halved. Save some pits for the infusion.
- 1 pint bottle brandy
For the Cherry Syrup:
- 1 pound fresh sweet cherries pitted
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
For the Cocktail
- ½ oz fresh lime juice
- Sugar for the rim
- Fresh lime slices and maraschino cherries for garnish
To Make the Cherry Brandy:
- Combine the pitted and halved cherries and the brandy in a container. Several recipes I read for making the cherry liqueur indicate adding some of the pits as well so I put in a couple of tablespoons of them too.
- Cover and keep in a cool place for at least 5 days.
To Make the Cherry Syrup:
- Combine the cherries, sugar and water in a medium saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
- Add the mixture to a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the syrup through a strainer and remove the solids. Put into a container and store in the refrigerator.
To Make the Cocktail:
- Rub the rim of your glass with a lime slice and dip it into sugar. Put the glasses into the refrigerator or freezer to chill.
- Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and for each cocktail add 1 & 1/2 oz of the cherry brandy, 1/2 oz of the cherry syrup and 1/2 oz of freshly squeezed lime juice.
- Shake vigorously 10-15 times.
- Fill the chilled glasses with ice and pour the cocktail into the glass.
- Garnish with a lime slice and maraschino cherry.