Cocktail Cherries on


When fresh cherries are in season, it’s time to make a delicious cocktail garnish. I have a strong opinion that you should take advantage of every opportunity to avoid using those glow-in-the-dark cocktail cherries you normally find on store shelves. Don’t be fooled by their unnaturally bright red coloring or their artificially preserved snappy texture. They are not fruit—the sad shells of what used to be cherries have been completely purged of real cherry flavor, totally robbed of natural color, only to be resurrected in a sinister soup of chemical syrups and artificial flavors and colors. They are the zombies of the preserved fruit world—Frankenstein’s monsters of the cocktail garnish tray. Of course, you can find good cocktail cherries, (I like to use Amarena cherries) but these options can be few and far between. The solution: just make your own.


I used to be a fan making spirit-soaked cocktail cherries, and that’s a fine option, but but lately I have found that you can get much better results by putting in a little more effort. Instead of simply dropping fresh cherries into a jar with brandy or your favorite liqueur, I propose making a quick syrup on the stove, simmering your cherries, and then adding your spirits. Using a syrup to start off really makes a difference, as does cooking the cherries just a bit. You also get an opportunity to add some spices to the mix.


Cocktail Cherries
1 lb fresh cherries
.5 c sugar
.5 c water
.5 oz lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
2 oz maraschino liqueur
2 oz cognac
2 oz Cherry Heering

Pit cherries leaving the stems on. Save the pits. Add water, sugar, lemon and spices to a pot and bring to a boil. Add cherries and pits. Stir and simmer for seven minutes. Remove from heat and add brandies and liqueur. Allow to cool, then transfer cherries to a clean jar. Strain liquid over cherries to cover. Refrigerate.


Start by pitting your cherries. The last thing you want is a dental bill from one of your guests, so it’s a good idea to get a nice pitter. I have broken more than one cherry pitter over the years because most of the ones I have tried have been junk. I have had handles break, pitting plungers come unglued and springs stop working. Then I found the Westmark Cherry Pitter. It’s fantastic, and with such a simple, all-metal design, it will probably last a lifetime, It’s not fancy, but it gets the job done—proof that the best tool doesn’t have to look like a space-age gizmo to get good results. As you pit your cherries, it can help to catch everything in a bowl in the sink. Red cherry juice can fly long distances, staining everything it touches. Don’t just let the pits drop into the sink. Save them to help flavor your syrup.


This recipe works for a pound of cherries, but you can reduce it easily. I dropped the quantities by a factor of 2/3 and added only 15 cherries for a small jar. As the cherries simmer, they will take in the syrup and really start to look and smell delicious. Resist the temptation to go longer. You may think they need more time simmering, but this will only soften them. We aren’t making a pie filling. We want to preserve their texture as much as possible.


When you reach five to seven minutes, take the cherries off the heat. Add the Cherry Heering, some cognac and Luxardo maraschino liqueur. Stir and let cool. Finally, you could just dump everything into a jar, but you probably have more syrup than you actually need. Pull out your cherries and put them into a jar one by one, avoiding the pits. Strain the syrup over cherries until they are covered and seal the jar and store in the refrigerator. That’s it. Done. Chances are that you will have some extra syrup. Don’t throw it out! It makes a fantastic cherry soda, or you can use it as substitute in some other cocktail. How about a cherry lemonade or a cherry Collins? You’ll certainly be ready with the perfect garnish.


Today We’re Loving: Chivas Regal Cocktails on OK

Fourth of July weekend is all about the beach, barbeques, fireworks and enjoying a cocktail! So why not splurge on something fun? Our friends at Chivas Regal have shared some delicious scotch cocktail recipes and there is bound to one for every palette.

(more…) Cherry Heering at LA County Museum of Art

Food From Film as Art: Tim Burton-Approved Dishes Added to Ray’s & Stark Bar Menu for LACMA Exhibit

 Photo by Salina Canizales via the LAist Featured Photos pool

The Tim Burton Retrospective is drawing crowds to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and savvy attendees will be sure to time their visit with room for a drink and some eats at Ray’s and Stark Bar, the patio-style bar and restaurant that have recently opened up at the venue. Having already created a delicious cocktail, the Dr. Burton, that plays on the cineaste’s affinity for Dr. Pepper (it’s made with DonQ white rum with Amaretto, Cheery Heering and Amaro CioCiara), two Burton-approved dishes have gone on the dining room menu, and can be served up by request: Razor clams in squid olive broth with polenta island, burned octopus, fresh herbs, and piqulo peppers ($16) and white rabbit with tea in a mushroom forest ($27).

The dishes, and the drink, are available until the exhibit closes, October 31, 2011.

Cherry Heering cocktail recipes on

Cupid’s Cocktail recipe

Shake ingredients and strain into a chilled highball glass. Garnish a slice of orange and a cherry.

7% (14 proof)
Serve in: Highball Glass
Darkwood Sling recipe

There are many good cherry liqueurs you can use, but I prefer Heering. Add one share of the liqueur. Then you add one share of Soda. For a sour sling use Tonic (most people prefer the drink without Tonic). Afterwards you fill the glass with Orange Juice and ice cubes.

7% (14 proof)
Serve in: Cocktail Glass

Read more: Cherry Heering cocktail recipes

Read more: Cherry Heering cocktail recipes

Drink of the Week: Singapore Sling on

Supposedly, July 27th was National Scotch Day. I know it’s not the most popular holiday, but the timing was pretty good (it was a coincidence, really) for describing the Scotch tasting event last week and for featuring the Blood and Sand cocktail the week before. I thought about selecting another Scotch drink this week but I decided it was time to move on. That’s when a friend of mine finally tracked down some Cherry Heering and made the Blood and Sand. I wondered if perhaps there were other readers looking for additional ways to use cherry brandy, so I thought I would feature the Singapore Sling.

It can be a delicious cocktail, depending on the recipe you use. That said, it’s just as easy to make one taste awful. Part of the problem is that like a lot of cocktails, the original recipe was lost and this has caused many enthusiasts to experiment with ingredients over the years. It’s certainly considered a classic, dating back to the early twentieth century when it was created at the Raffles Hotel Singapore, but it disappeared around 1930. The official “restored” version was supposedly discovered on an old bar napkin and pieced together based on bartender memory, but not everyone agrees that it is the proper recipe. Another drink called the Straits Sling is a close match, and more than a few cocktail historians think this might actually be the real recipe. Whatever you want to believe, one thing is absolutely clear—right or wrong, there’s more than one way to make a Singapore Sling.

And that’s another problem with this cocktail. It’s just never the same drink in two different locations. Finding a favorite version would be a lot easier if there weren’t so many ingredients to assemble. Now, I’m not saying you should ignore any cocktail that has more than a few ingredients, but if you are in a hurry, it’s probably not going to be your first choice. The traditional recipe is a combination of gin, Dom Benedictine, Cherry Heering, Cointreau, lime juice, fresh pineapple juice, grenadine and Angostura bitters. It’s not impossible, but how often does anyone have fresh pineapple juice anyway? Now, normally I’d be excited about the opportunity to use some homemade real pomegranate grenadine, but there is a real risk of ruining this drink with too much syrupy sweetness. Imagine my surprise when I found a version that not only leaves out the grenadine, but drops the pineapple as well!

This version of the Singapore Sling is found in the pages of Jeff “Beachbum” Berry’s excellent Beachbum Berry Remixed, a revised compilation of tiki drinks from his two successful books in one volume. Some of you might argue that the pineapple juice is what gives this drink the foamy head and that it’s an essential flavor element. Well, I am not here to argue, but but I gotta say, I am a lot more likely to make this drink in it’s less complicated form than I am to carve up a fresh pineapple in order to conform with tradition. Besides, I like the flavor of this version because it has a nice balance without being overly sweet. Do what you like, especially if you have a pineapple and some pomegranate grenadine, but I’m saving mine for another time and making this version from now on:

Singapore Sling
from Beachbum Berry Remixed
2 oz gin
.5 oz brandy
1 oz Cherry Heering
.5 oz Benedictine
1 oz fresh lime juice
1.5 oz club soda to top

Add all ingredients except the soda to a shaker. Fill with ice and shake until thoroughly chilled. Strain into a tall glass of ice. Add soda to top and garnish with an orange wedge and a sprig of mint.

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