Deep, dark, and volatile is the most expressive way to describe this explosive elixir. It’s Cherry Bounce–a tasty combination that plays on two of my favorite themes: Kentucky bourbon and ripe cherries. Just one sip of the smoky roundness of bourbon kissed with the sweet juice of dark cherries and it’s time to celebrate.
Let’s celebrate the holidays: Thanksgiving, I’m thankful; Christmas time, oh yeah; New Year’s Eve, let’s party! But that’s months away; I’ve got some explaining to do. Here’s the deal: Cherry Bounce is a textbook example of plan-ahead, delayed gratification, kitchen experimentation at its best. It only takes a matter of minutes to make, but to enjoy it takes at least six months. Dark cherries, bourbon, and sugar are the complete ingredient list, but it is the time that’s most needed to work magic.
Cherry Bounce is a holiday recipe that is steeped in family tradition and entrenched in the moonshine heritage of the Deep South I grew up in. Around here, time-honored recipes for homespun family elixirs and toddies are a part of the cultural landscape of the South.
I recall growing up in small-town Bogalusa, Louisiana hunkered down in the Southeast corner of the state along the Mississippi border. This is fire-and-brimstone Southern Baptist country where local town folks walked the straight and narrow when it came to alcohol and looked down at those who imbibed in the hard stuff. Oh, they’d sneak a snootful every now and again; it’s what they called a little “toddy.” And come Saturday night, they’d loosen their Bible belt, but those same folks would be sitting in their pews repenting on Sunday morning.
And if the path to righteousness is full of little detours; then this is one I am willing to take. It’s easy: Just find a large jar with a tight-fitting lid (wide-mouth 2-quart Ball jar for me); pick up some sweet ripe cherries (dark Bings are my choice); add some good, middle-of-the-road bourbon (cheap Ancient Age will save you money); and sweeten it all with a little sugar (superfine caster is best). Tuck it away in the back of your pantry, and set a timer for late November to give thanks, mid-December for a merrier Christmas, or the happiest New Year ever.
- 2 pounds (about 4 cups) fresh sweet dark cherries, such as Bing
- 1 (750ml) bottle bourbon
- ½ cup sugar, such as caster
- Clean and sterilize the jar following standard canning procedures.
- Remove the stems from the cherries and wash thoroughly. Using a bamboo skewer, pierce both sides of the skin of the cherries so that the juices will run freely.
- Pack the cherries in the jar, add the sugar and cover completely with bourbon.
- Tightly screw on the lid and put in a cool part of the pantry for 6 months.
- Open the jar and strain off the cherries (freeze the marinated cherries to use later; ice cream sundae, anyone?). Pour the bounce over ice or enjoy straight up. Garnish with more fresh cherries and a sprig of mint, if you like.
Don’t use the good stuff here: A blind taste test pitting Ancient Age bourbon against pricier upscale brands was an eye-opener that cheap can sometimes be better; pick up a bottle and try it for yourself.
No need to remove the cherry pits, they will be discarded in the end. For a spritzer variation, cut the Cherry Bounce with carbonated soda water or use your bounce to make the tastiest Old Fashioned ever. After opening, refrigerate your Cherry Bounce indefinitely.
YOUR SEAT AT THE TABLE: If you like this Southern cooking story and recipe then accept my personal invitation to subscribe by entering your email at the bottom or top right of this page. It’s quick and painless. You will receive an email alert and be the first to see when new cooking stories and recipes are added. Thanks, George.