Eighteenth Century history in a bottle. Warm hints of clove. Sweet sugary cinnamon. Port red ruby color. A Christmas Cherry Bounce. As with anything historical, it’s hard to pinpoint origins and plotlines, but this recipe is said to work with just about any stone fruit. However, cherries hold a particular place in this cordial’s heart as Cherry Bounce was one of George Washington’s favorite tipples.
American lore holds that this was “such a favorite of General Washington’s that he packed a “Canteen” of it, along with Madeira and port, for a trip west across the Allegheny Mountains in September 1784.” Cherries must have been much cheaper in George’s day. The recipe on mountvernon.com calls for an astounding 10-11 pounds of cherries presumably to yield enough for a canteen’s worth of enjoyment.
I mean if you’re going to hypothetically cut down a supposed cherry tree, it must be presumed that you intend to do something with all of those theoretical cherries whose deaths now lie firmly in your hands! Best put a little life back into them, eh? Cherry pie! Thinner. Cherry preserves? Thinner still. Cherry Bounce. Excellent. Add a little cognac, will you.
By George, hold your horses. Contrary to the suggestion of the nomenclature, a bounce isn’t created overnight. This will need several months in a pantry before it’ll be anywhere near refreshing. But have no fear, as with all liqueurs, the recipe is as flexible as they come with many different methods (crushed, halved or whole cherries), schedules (2 weeks, 2 months, or longer) and outcomes (a lightly spiced cordial to a full bodied cherry wine). This particular variation is one of my favorites.
- 2½ lbs fresh Bing cherries, destemmed, pitted, halved (divided)
- 1 cup granulated sugar (divided)
- 1 cup cognac (divided)
- 2 whole cloves
- 1 (1") cinnamon stick
- 1 (1L) Sealed Weck Juice Carafe
- July: Purchase, destem and freeze 2½ fresh Bing cherries.
- August 31st: Thaw half of the cherries for the first round of cherry bounce. Add 2 whole cloves and a small 1" cinnamon stick to the bottom of a 1 litre Weck juice jar. Next, pit and halve the cherries, adding them to the jar as you go. Pour in 1/2 cup each of sugar and cognac. Seal and close the jar and set aside overnight to soften the cherries.
- September 1st: Thaw the remaining half of the cherries. Once thawed, Gently press down on the cherries crushing them into the bottom half of the jar. Pit and halve the remaining cherries, adding them to the jar as you go. Press the cherries down a little bit to add as much cognac as possible to the jar! Top off the Cherry Bounce with the remaining 1/2 cup each of sugar and cognac or just enough liquid to leave 1" of breathing space at the top of the jar. No need to add more cloves or cinnamon unless you happen to like a strong spice. Close and seal the jar, storing at the back of the pantry until Christmas morning.
- December 25th: Enjoy!
- Recipe yields approximately 1½ cups of Cherry Bounce depending on the juiciness of the cherries.