Thursday, January 28, 2016

Thirsty Thursday - A Drink for Dear Old General Washington

Benjamin Franklin once said, "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail". The sage was onto something, a bit of wisdom that applies equally to the boardroom and the barroom. If you really want to make a standout cocktail, the ingredients you use must be carefully considered, of the best quality, and painstakingly prepared. Today's Thirsty Thursday segment will give you a chance to prepare something your friends have probably never heard of and celebrate the birthday of one of Mr. Franklin's cohorts, General George Washington.

In September of 1784, after vanquishing the British and winning independence for the colonies, Washington and his nephew crossed the Allegheny Mountains in the process of planning and surveying the best route for a new road. In preparation Washington was said to have packed a canteen of Madeira, port, and Cherry Bounce for the trip. Preparing to succeed indeed!

Cherry Bounce is a spiced fruit cordial that requires a couple of weeks of preparation, so if you want to celebrate the first president's birthday in style get cracking! Here's the recipe (according to Epicurious):

10 - 11lbs fresh sour cherries or 1lb 9oz of preserved cherries (preferably Morello)
4C brandy
3C sugar (more if you want a sweeter cordial)
2 cinnamon sticks broken into pieces
2-3 whole cloves
1 (1/4in) piece of fresh, whole nutmeg

  1. Pit  and half the cherries and put them in a large bowl. Using a potato masher to slightly crush the fruit, extracting as much juice as possible. Strain through a large, fine-mesh strainer, using a spoon to press the fruit and extract all the juice (you should end up with about 8 cups). Put the mashed cherries in the freezer or refrigerator for later use. If you're using preserved cherries, drain the fruit and set the juice aside before halving and mashing the cherries. Add any pressed juice to the reserved jarred juice. 
  2. In a lidded 1-gallon glass jar, combine the juice with the brandy and sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Put the lid on the jar and put it in the refrigerator for 24 hours (stir or shake occasionally). 
  3. Bring 2 cups of the cherry juice to a simmer over medium heat. Here's where you'll guage the sweetness of your cordial. Give the juice a taste and add more sugar, if desired. Drop the cinnamon sticks, cloves, and nutmeg into the pot and stir. Cover and let simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, and set aside to cool to room temperature. Strain, and discard the spices. 
  4. Return the spiced juice to the 1-gallon glass jar. Cover loosely with the lid, and let set in the fridge for at least 2 weeks, occasionally shaking the jar. 
  5. Cherry Bounce should be served at room temperature in small cordial or wine glasses. Store the remainder in the refrigerator. 
Nice and sweet, but if you want to spike the celebration with a little irony, you can use your Cherry Bounce to make a cocktail known as a Communist:

2 parts Orange Juice
2 parts Gin
1 part Cherry Bounce
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
Combine all the above with ice in a cocktail shaker, give it a good rattling, and pour into a martini glass.

The history of this little lost gem? Hard to say, it appears in the 1933 CanapĂ© Parade booklet Cocktail Parade. CanapĂ© Parade published a series of recipe booklets during the early 1930's, giving the home cook ideas for everything from cheese boards to pate. The cocktail edition is a list of period drinks coupled with strange, delirium tremens inspired illustrations that make you wonder if you've somehow become inebriated just by touching the pages. It's an interesting peruse for anyone whose interested in period food and drink, definitely worth a look. 

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