In South Louisiana, cherry trees don’t get enough days of freezing weather in the winter to grow cherries of any particular merit. However, wild cherry trees are everywhere. (I have several growing in the woods around the Cool Water Ranch.) The cherries they produce are small and extremely tart. And the birds have a way of getting them all. But some people have enough good trees to get quite a few cherries, and they make this liqueur with them. You might be tempted to make this with good fresh cherries from the store, but it doesn’t work: the cherries have to be sour. While different makers of this use different liquors for the marinade, it seems to me that vodka is the way to go. It has no flavor of its own, and lets the subtle cherry taste come through.
- 3 quarts wild cherries
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 tsp. anise seeds
- 1 1/2 liters vodka of decent quality
1. Rinse the cherries in cold water. Removed the excess water with a salad spinner or towel. Remove all leaves and stems.
2. Heat 1/2 cup of water in a clean saucepan until wisps of steam come off the top. Stir in the sugar until it dissolves completely. Remove from the heat.
3. Pour the cherries and the anise seeds into a one-gallon glass jug with a tight-fitting cap. Add the simply syrup from step 2 to the jug. Cap the jug tightly and shake it like crazy for about five minutes.
4. Add the vodka and shake to blend. Cap the jug loosely, so air can get out, and store it in a cool, dry, dark place for a few months. (Mark the date on the bottle so there will be no doubt.)
5. After at least two months, strain the contents of the jug through cheesecloth or a coffee filter set into a clean sieve. (The latter will take a long time; the bigger the filter, the better.)
6. Serve as a digestif with coffee. Have something else ready as an after-dinner drink in case some don’t like it–an inevitability.
Makes about 2 liters.