Cocktail Cherries and Brandied Apricots

Brandied cherries

I have never understood the appeal of maraschino cherries. O.k. that is not entirely true, I enjoy the occasional maraschino cherry topping my ice cream sundae, but have always been suspect to that unnatural chemical glow. I remember being a child and staring in awe at the kryptonite colored jar of cherries stuck in the refrigerator door next to the ketchup. I was never brave enough to try one. After doing some research on the www, it turns out those green cherries were probably peppermint flavored. I have never seen a peppermint cherry in a bar so I am guessing these were used as an alternative to peppermint jelly in some sort of meat dish? Nice one, Mom!

It is no surprise that lots of objectionable ingredients go into the making of maraschino cherries including a brine, high fructose corn syrup, almond flavoring, sulfur dioxide and tons of food coloring. According to Wikipedia, "The process to create these cherries is very similar to the process used to shrink monkey heads in the Amazon rain forest area." eeeeew gross!

Ahem, so some of my co-workers took it upon themselves to make their own cocktail cherries, and I went along to help! The process was fairly simple. First, we took pitted sour cherries and strained them of their juices. We then took this juice, added sugar, fresh ginger and a sachet of spices...cinnamon, star anise, all spice, and cloves tied in cheese cloth. After simmering the mixture for 10 min., we let it cool, then added Noilly Pratte vermouth, brandy, and Triple Sec. Once all ingredients were combined we poured the mixture back into the cherries, fully submerging them and placed the giant vat in a dark cooler to marinate for several weeks. Mmmm, did somebody say Manhattan? Straight up please!

Apricot brandy

This is my first attempt ever to make apricot brandy. If you didn't already know by the title of this post, you would probably be wondering if the goal was to make brandied apricots or apricot brandy here. Well, it is the latter. We may have went overboard on the apricots or, we just might have made the most amazing apricot brandy ever. Only time will tell.

The process was very simple. First I scrubbed clean, then cut the apricots into small chunks. I tied a few of the apricot stones in cheese cloth for added depth. (It is these stones and the pits of almonds that give amaretto its unique flavor.) Finally, I added Christian brothers brandy to the fruit and sealed the jars. With the advice of our pastry chef, I stored the jars in a dark refrigerator. We will be tasting them in a few weeks. I can hardly wait!

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