Cherry Bounce, PawPaw Style
The world lost (and heaven gained) a great man last week–my wonderful PawPaw. He was a wonderful grandfather, and I miss him so much already. One of the ways we bonded over the years was talking about cooking, baking, etc. This recipe falls into the “etc.” camp.
Cherry bounce is a delicious (adult) drink. Other than the taste, one of the best parts of cherry bounce is being able to serve it to people and say, “Oh this? This is just some booze I made.”
Cherry bounce has quite a long history, not just in my family but across America. As my grandfather was fond of telling people, “Martha Washington had her own recipe for cherry bounce.” He found the recipe in a newspaper article and sent it to me once–of course, hers was at a different scale than our recipe–designed to sate the thirst of all of Mount Vernon.
It takes six months to get from step one to drinking the cherry bounce, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s completely worth it. It tastes delicious on its own and is also quite tasty over ice cream or in sauces. My Uncle John recommends that at the end of the process, you reserve the cherries and use them to stuff a duck.
You can use pretty much any liquor you’d like to make this. My favorite version to drink straight is the brandy version. My favorite version to mix with things is the bourbon version. I’ve never made the vodka version, because I’m not much of a vodka person–at least not since about age 23.
Courtesy of my PawPaw, via my Uncle John
- 1 quart (about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lb) of wild cherries (can use fresh Bing cherries)
- 1 lb granulated sugar
- 1 750-ml bottle of brandy, bourbon, or vodka (not needed until two months after the cherries and sugar)
Pick over cherries, removing the stems but not pitting the cherries. Toss out any cherries that look suspicious – it’s such a waste to wind up with moldy cherry bounce. I discovered the hard way that the fruit at my usual grocery store is generally not up to this task (and since discovering that, I look over stuff at that store a lot more carefully–discovered last week they were trying to sell a pint of strawberries that already had mold on it. Blech.). Cherries always have that little butt at the top, where the stem is, and if that part is split open or looks suspicious, toss it. Any noticeable gashes on the cherries? Toss ’em. Bacteria loves it when the protective skin on cherries is compromised.
Rinse the cherries well, then drain.
Pour moist cherries into a jug (my Uncle John recommends the really big Apple Cider glass jugs, but I’ve never been able to find them near me, so I use glass kitchen storage jugs). Pour 1/2 c. sugar over moist cherries, then shake until cherries are coated. Pour remaining sugar on top of cherries. Do not mix. Place cap on jug loosely to prevent pressure build-up; if you’re using one of the kitchen storage jugs I like to use, you can just remove the plastic ring that makes it air-tight (and set aside to be added back when you add the booze).
Let stand until sugar melts on top of cherries. Stir by revolving jug. Repeat until all sugar is dissolved. (I’m lazy and have had pretty good success just adding all the sugar at once – I like doing that because it’s easy to keep track of
Let stand for 2 months, or until there is literally no sugar left in the bottom. On the left is a jug that’s not quite ready. On the right is a jug that’s ready.
After the two months are up and all the sugar is dissolved, pour the brandy/bourbon/vodka over cherries and close the jug tightly. Let stand for 3 or 4 months. During the 3 month period, revolve the jug occasionally. Strain through cheesecloth and pour into bottles.