Monday, June 17, 2013

Cheers to Cherry

Cherries, while great on their own, are better (in one form or another) when part of a cocktail.  Thankfully, Andrea leads the charge with just such a cherry MxMo theme as described on her blog, Gin Hound:

Singapore Gin Sling, Blood and Sand, and the Aviation wouldn’t be the same without them… But cherries in cocktails are also horribly abused, few things taste worse than artificial cherry aroma, and the description of how most maraschino cherries are made can make you sick to your stomach. So it’s my pleasure as the host of Mixology Monday… to challenge you to honor the humble cherry. However you choose to do that, is entirely up to you. You could use Maraschino Liqueur, Cherry Heering, Kirchwasser, Belgian Kriek Beer, cherry wine, or any spectacular infusions invented by you in a cocktail. Or make your own maraschino cherries for a spectacular garnish.

After having eyed Leopold Bros Michigan Tart Cherry Liqueur for some time now, I had a solid excuse to purchase a bottle and put it to use.  Open the bottle and you simply can't help but taste a piece of tart cherry pie.  Take a small sip and it gets even better.  The sour cherries used to produce this outstanding liqueur, while grown in Michigan, have their origins in France and were named after such a valley in Montmorency.  It is a fantastic and unique addition to my liqueur collection, neither overly tart nor sweet...a very balanced profile which I found paired nicely with a spirit produced in a region just 5-6 hours to the southwest, Cognac.

When in France...
1 1/2 oz Courvoisier V.S.O.P.
3/4 oz The Bitter Truth E**X**R 
3/4 oz Leopold Bros Michigan Tart Cherry Liqueur
3-4 drops black peppercorn tincture*
1 dash Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla bitters
lemon zest

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until very well chilled.  Strain into a pre-chilled cocktail coupe, express lemon zest over top and discard.

Black peppercorn tincture*
2 oz whole black peppercorns
6 oz neutral grain spirit 

Combine ingredients in non-reactive vessel and let sit at room temperature for 3-4 weeks, shaking once daily. Alternatively, heat sous vide water bath to 170F, combine ingredients in heat-proof bag, and let steep/infuse for 3-4 hours. Strain and store in clean container.

When in France...

From a flavor profile standpoint, I know cherries tend to pair very well with brandy (cognac), vanilla, and occasionally a crack of fresh pepper.  In the glass, after some slight tinkering with proportions, this rang true as well.  The Bitter Truth E**X**R amaro blended seamlessly, much akin to sweet vermouth in a Manhattan, and the subtle black pepper note added just a backdrop of spice.  Overall, yet another venture complete...definitely pick up a bottle of this Leopold Bros Michigan Tart Cherry Liqueur, you won't regret it.  Thanks go out to Andrea from Gin Hound for this month's MxMo Cherry theme and be sure to check back soon for the round-up post.

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