When you were a kid, how tempting were the maraschino cherries? We all wanted them. I have a confession to make, I don’t like them anymore. I think it might be how cloyingly sweet they seem now. So, I hit upon a better idea, I’ll make my own cherry garnishes. And since it’s cherry season here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, now’s the time.
I love Bourbon, Rye and Irish Whiskey. I’m in a Rye phase currently. There are so many fabulous varieties hitting the market now, so when it came time for me to marinate my cherries, I decided to use Rye. The same is true of cherries. I usually go with the dark purple Bings, but when I can find beautiful Royal Annes, I’m in heaven. As you can see, the color intensity varies by variety.
Start with a pint size jar. You’re not going to be canning it so any jar will do. I have a large quantity of empty Bonne Maman jars since they make the best raspberry jam so I’m using those. I use my handy cherry pitter and fill the jar with pitted cherries. Once the jar is to capacity, I fill it with Rye. Put it in the refrigerator and let it get mellow for a week or 3. They will only get better and will last for months in the refrigerator. If you’re willing to share, these taste exquisite on ice cream as well.
Ingredients for a Manhattan:
Marinated Cherry for garnish
Dash Angostura bitters
2 ounces Rye
3/4 ounce Sweet red vermouth
Combine Rye, vermouth and bitters in a cocktail mixing glass. Add ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish the the marinated cherry. You can substitute bourbon for the Rye, but why would you want to.
and remember: I love to paraphrase Dorothy Parker: Oh I love a Manhattan, 2 at the most, 3 I’m under the table, 4 I’m under the host. Big kiss, Lynn
I know, I know. Why am I wasting time talking about a garnish. Come summer, when the deck is sunny and people are milling about and the water in the bay is sparkling like a freshly cut diamond, you are going to add one of these frozen blood orange slices to a glass of lemonade, a vodka lemonade or simply a glass of water. People are going to go, “ohhhh, ahhhh, this looks amazing”. The flavor of the blood orange isn’t that different, but it does have a berry like tang and the color is simply ravishing. I also love the color variation from orange to orange.
Blood oranges are only available mid-January to mid-March. I know you aren’t thinking of summertime entertaining right now, but maybe that’s when we should be. I start freezing slices the minute I see them in the stores. I found these the other night at Trader Joe’s (love me my Trader Joe’s). I line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and lay the slices down in a single layer. A quick visit to the freezer and then I store them in Ziploc bags. They last beautifully. If you love a Negroni, picture a blood orange slice in that rosy potion.
I used to make them into ice cubes immediately, but that took so much storage space. I now wait for the weather to improve a bit and I’ll just pop a few slices into the glass with, dare I say, naked ice cubes. This works equally well with Washington Bing cherries. They also have such a short season. Use the same parchment paper technique with pitted cherries. Your Old Fashioned will bless you for frozen cherries. Come summer, I will make up a couple of ice cube trays of both cherries and orange slices, just to be ready for an impromptu party. Ah, look at that color! Enjoy.
and remember: Every night I look up at the freckled sky and fall in love with the Universe all over again. I will be counting the stars for the rest of my life. Big kiss, Lynn (God, but I love words!)