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Make it a Sour Cherry on Top

As a kid, I was a Shirley Temple junkie; I loved to down ginger ale, grenadine and as many neon-bright sweet maraschino cherries as I could fit in the glass. The beverage was ultimately a vehicle for those cherries.

Since then, my love of cherries has not waned, but it has grown up. I look forward to ordering Manhattans now just to receive a luxurious Luxardo Marasca cherry soaked in syrup. When my Manhattan arrives sans fruit, I scoff. Gourmet cherries or bust!

You don’t have to wait to be served these precious garnishes drink by drink – if you make them yourself, you can enjoy them as you see fit. Me, I’m going to mix up a Manhattan and see how many I can fit in a cocktail glass.

Sour cherries, or pie cherries, are in season right now. But hurry to the farmers market – they are only available for a few weeks at the end of June and into July. They are smaller, more acidic, and more tart than your average cherry, and are just perfect for dressing up a cocktail. A few years ago, I was introduced to a simple brandied version that was unbelievably delicious  and surprisingly easy to make. They taste great in Manhattans, but are also mouthwatering over ice cream or made into a sorbet.

Ingredients:

1 pint of pitted sour cherries*

1 cup of maraschino liqueur (I recommend Luxardo)

Bring a cup of the maraschino liqueur to a simmer in a small pot. Turn the heat off and add the cherries. Stir. Let the combination cool down and then place in a glass jar. Let the cherries soak for at least two days in the refrigerator for the flavors to macerate. They will last for a few months.

*A tip for pitting the cherries: take a plastic drinking straw and push where the stem used to be. The pit should easily pop out the other end.