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Behind the Bar: Cherry Concoctions

While summer has officially only just started, for several weeks I’ve already been enjoying one of its sweetest rewards: cherries.

These deliciously ripe fruits are tasty on their own, but they can also be incorporated into a range of refreshing cocktails. Among my favorite ways to use them is in the thirst-quenching Cherry Caipirinha (cachaça, cherries, lime and velvet falernum). And if you simply swap in light rum for the cachaça, you can make a Cherry Caipirissima.

Cherries are also, of course, an essential garnish for classics like the Manhattan and the Rob Roy. During the cold months, our only option is jarred cherries like those from Luxardo or Sable & Rosenfeld. (The bright-red dyed cherries sold by the gallon have no place in a well-made drink.)

But in this age of craft bartending and artisanal ingredients, you can also easily make your own cocktail cherries. I like the simple recipe for Bourbon Cherries from David Page and Barbara Shinn’s Recipes from Home. The hardest part is waiting for them to cure, but you’ll have a sweet taste of summer all winter long.

Cherry Caipirinha

Contributed by Dale DeGroff


  • Half a lime, cut into quarters
  • 4 Morello cherries, stemmed and pitted
  • .75 oz Simple syrup (one part sugar, one part water)
  • .25 oz Velvet falernum
  • 2 oz Cachaça

Glass: Rocks


In a shaker, muddle the lime, cherries, syrup and velvet falernum. Add the cachaça and fill with ice. Shake well and pour (unstrained) into a chilled rocks glass.

Bourbon Cherries

Contributed by David Page and Barbara Shinn


  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1.5 cups Water
  • 3 pints Montmorency cherries, stemmed
  • 2 L Bourbon


Place 2 tablespoons of sugar and 3 tablespoons of water into each of 8 sterilized 1-pint Mason jars. Fill the jars with the cherries, packing tightly but being careful not to crush the fruit. Fill each jar with bourbon, leaving half an inch of headroom. Seal the jars and shake them to dissolve the sugar. Store in a dark place for 3 months before using.

This recipe is adapted from Recipes from Home by David Page and Barbara Shinn.

Master mixologist Dale DeGroff is the author of The Essential Cocktail and The Craft of the Cocktail. He is also a advisor.