Recipe Adventures: Bourbon Cherries

“To live will be an awfully big adventure.”-Peter Pan

Now, to the cherries! So. For the past few months I have been experimenting with different bourbon cherry recipes to figure out which one was the best. Or really, to try to make cherries that have the same texture as Luxardo cherries, but with bourbon, and cheaper.

The first recipe I used was…

1 pound of frozen black cherries ( I used Market Pantry from Target)

1/4 cup of sugar 

1/4 cup of bourbon (I used the cheapo Benchmark for these)

Combine the cherries, sugar, and bourbon in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Boil for 5 minutes, then remove from heat and let cool. Refrigerate, overnight if possible, before serving.

So far, this seems to be the best recipe. Side note: I hate maraschino cherries because they’re too mushy. So, I’ve altered this recipe for 2 minutes of boiling, which seemed to help keep some of the cherries from getting too mushy.   These last about a month.
I kept with this style for awhile and then decided to try my hand at using fresh cherries.

The recipe I used was…

2 cups of fresh cherries, stems attached, non-pitted

3/4 cup of packed brown sugar

1 cup of bourbon

Heat bourbon and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved. Pack cherries into a small jar and pour hot liquid over them; gently press on the cherries to make sure they are submerged.  Cover and refrigerate for at least a week. 

These were crazy boozy, basically “drunk” cherries.  And, they didn’t last very long. Very quickly they lost their color and started to look pretty gross. They were bad in about 2 weeks.

This recipe is sort of a blend of the two. Here’s this one…

10 ounces of frozen cherries ( I used Woodstock organic dark sweet cherries)

1/2 cup of packed brown sugar

1/2 cup of bourbon (I used 1/4 cup of Four Roses Yellow Label and a 1/4 cup of Johnny Drum Black Label)

A couple drops of vanilla extract

A couple orange peels

Put frozen cherries into a jar. Heat bourbon and brown sugar in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Add vanilla and orange peel to sauce pan. Pour over frozen cherries into jar. Refrigerate overnight.

These cherries were so ushy-mushy. So, if you like mushy cherries, these are the ones for you. These are probably my least favorite of the batches. Not sure what changed, maybe it was the cherries, I used different cherries than normal.

My work in progress continues…. Luxardo’s cherries have me beat…so far.

Next on the list was to try canned cherries. Here’s the recipe.

1 can of red tart cherries (15 oz, Best Choice)


1 can of dark sweet cherries (15 oz, Oregon brand)

1/4 cup of packed brown sugar

1/4 cup of bourbon (I used Four Roses Yellow Label)

Orange peel

Couple drops of vanilla extract 

Combine all of the ingredients into a saucepan, warm over medium heat (just enough to dissolve the sugar.) Pour cherries and enough liquid to cover cherries. Refrigerate overnight.

I used the exact same recipe for both brands of cherries. The cherries were super soft out of the can, so I chose to not boil them. As far as looks go, the Oregon dark cherries look way more appealing and appear to be less mushy. As far as tastes go, the tart cherries tastes sort of like olives, which is super weird. If you like olives in your bourbon drinks, go for it, I guess. The Oregon cherries are DELICIOUS!!!!!!!!! HOORAY!!! Winner, winner, chicken dinner. Boom Shaka- laka! Boozy, not-too-mushy goodness.

Now, for a direct throwdown between the canned Oregon cherries and frozen Target cherries, with everything else being the same as the last recipe. I warmed the frozen cherries, bourbon (Four Roses Yellow Label), brown sugar, orange peel, and vanilla extract just enough for the cherries to thaw and the sugar to dissolve, then refrigerated overnight.

VERDICT! Both frozen cherries and canned cherries turned out equally well, using the final recipe, just a couple of differences. The frozen cherries had a better texture, as in, not mushy. The canned cherries had a slightly better overall flavor. But, not by much. So, if texture is your thing(like me), use frozen cherries, otherwise the canned are the way to go. Sidenote: pretty sure the Four Roses made the cherries from the first recipe better. So, the better the bourbon, the better your cherries.

I finally did it! Took about 4 months or so, but you’re welcome Internet! Delicious bourbon cherries. ?

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