Homemade Brandied Cherries Recipe – Anatomy of a Drink: Alex’s Fall Old Fashioned

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One thing our readers and followers should know by now is that if you ask for it, we’ll probably deliver. One of our fans, Zach, has been listening since nearly the beginning, and recently asked about my Fall Old Fashioned with Brandied Cherries recipe. This is a cherished recipe for me, even more so than my Moscow Mule with Lemon-Ginger Bitters, so it’s extra special. So let’s get to it. First, the Brandied Cherries.

Brandied Cherries Recipe:

First of all, there’s no specific way to make brandied cherries. My recipe below was started with one from a book, tweaked over time, and has settled in. Ultimately, the goal you’re trying to achieve is to produce a sweetened, syrupy cherry to add to a brown liquor-based cocktail.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup water
    • Some people will use cherry juice, but that’s almost too crazy for me. But maybe substitute a 1/4 cup of water for 1/4 cup of cherry juice if you’re feeling adventurous. Personally, I think the cherries will maintain their “cherry-ness” on their own.
  •  1/2 cup sugar
    • I use Muscovado because it’s the key to the syrupy goodness you want
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
    • Get a handy nutmeg grater–this is another ingredient/tool to spend a little extra on, trust me. You’ll never go back to pre-ground.
  • 3 pinches (or for exact measurements, 1/4-1/2 tsp) Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
    • Freshly ground is preferred, but it’s more important to have freshly ground nutmeg in terms of flavor.
  • 1 cup brandy
    • Get a brandy graded VSOP–“Very Special/Superior Old Pale”–in order to drive your flavor up–but don’t spring for anything older/more expensive than that.
  • 1 pound cherries, with the stems on
    • Some people tell you stem and pit the cherries, and that’s good if you just want to eat the cherries. OM NOM NOM. I like the stems for helping me actually put them in the drink, and then to pick them out once I’m done drinking. Just remember–and warn your guests–that the pits are still inside.

Steps:

  1. First, measure your sugar, water, salt, allspice and nutmeg. People always forget this step, but it makes things easier before you turn on the fire, haha. Also, while you’re prepping, crack your two cinnamon sticks in half to make 4 pieces. This doesn’t change the flavor, it’s just fun to do.
  2. In medium saucepan, combine sugar, water, cinnamon, salt, allspice and nutmeg. Bring to a low simmer (don’t get too vigorous!), stirring until the sugar dissolves.
  3. (This is the most important step)–remove saucepan from heat before adding your brandy. Don’t pour alcohol over an open flame. There’s a reason we don’t endorse Flaming Shots on the Podcast, y’all. Stir gently.
  4. IF YOU’RE CANNING THEM: Now, add those delicious cherries to the jars you’ll be using before you top them with the glorious syrup of the gods that you’ve created. Use the handle of a wooden spoon to push the jar contents to one side to get rid of your air bubbles. Then, put on your seal tops and get canning (for a full seal, do a hot water submersion). If you’ve never canned before, you should learn about it (and get a good starter kit). I like to age them at least a week once I’ve canned them before getting my first taste. Once you open them, they’ll be good for a week, maybe two, and unopened, they’ll last at least a year. Yee-haw!!
  5. IF YOU’RE NOT GOING TO CAN THEM: That’s fine, but they do get better with age. You’ll put your still want to put them into tempered glass containers (i.e. Mason jars) and let them cool uncovered to room temperature. Once they’ve cool,ed put on your tops and put them in the fridge. Then, you can store them overnight and serve the next day, and they should be good for up to a week after.

Cocktail Recipe: Fall Old Fashioned

Now you’re ready. You got your cherries soaking in the brandy and the incredible syrup you’ve made. The weather is changing. Football is on TV. So what are you going to drink? Well here’s a Fall-themed Old Fashioned that will knock the socks off any odd relative you see at the Thanksgiving dinner table or co-worker at a tailgate party.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cube Demerara sugar (I like cubes because muddling is fun, but 1/2 oz of simple syrup is fine too)
  • 3 dashes Fee Brothers Aromatic Bitters–particularly good because of their cinnamon notes)
  • A dash of water
  • 1 oz Laird’s Apple Jack
  • 1 oz rye whiskey–I love Rittenhouse Rye in this drink
  • 2 brandied cherries (from above)
  • Juice from the brandied cherries’ jar

Steps:

  1. In a mixing glass, muddle the sugar cube, bitters, and a little water until the sugar has broken down. Add in a small amount (maybe 1/4 tsp) of the juice from the brandied cherries’ jar.
  2. Add ice.
  3. Add Apple Jack and whiskey and stir for 20 seconds.
  4. Strain into a large Old Fashioned glass with one large ice cube.
  5. Garnish with two brandied cherries.
  6. Celebrate victory.
This is the best combination I know for a fall drink. I serve them to everyone all fall (and winter, to be honest), as long as I’ve got cherries. If I run out (oy!), then I love Luxardo Maraschino Cherries instead, especially with a little nutmeg freshly ground on top before stirring in the mixing glass. Tremendous.

 

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