Cherry Vodka Recipe

“Life is dandy, cherry brandy!” So goes a line from a poem by Russian writer Osip Mandelstam—meant to be ironic, of course, as he lived in the darkest days of Stalinism and died in the Gulag. Cherry brandy, cherry vodka, cherry liqueurs: These are the obvious consequence of Eastern Europe’s famous and abundant cherry orchards, of which there are just as many in Poland as there are in provincial Russia. Do note that this recipe works for any kind of fruit that is not too sweet. In particular it is worth trying with black currants or Polish jagody—wild blueberries—if you can find them.

The quantities given here are for a 34-oz/1-L jar, but do reduce them (or increase them!) in proportion to the bottle you are using.

Makes one 34-oz/1-L bottle of vodka

Ingredients

  • 1 1/8 lb/510 g fresh sour cherries (or black currants or jagody)
  • 25 oz/750 ml clear vodka
  • 1 to 2 tbsp sugar (optional)

 

Instructions

Pit and halve the cherries. As in all vodka recipes, it is important that the flesh of the fruit be somehow exposed.

Fill a jar with the cherries, but do not pack it. Pour the vodka on top and seal tightly. Leave in a dark place, preferably for at least 2 weeks—or up to 6 months. At the end of that time, open the jar and strain. If you have a very fine-mesh strainer, that will do. If not, use an ordinary strainer lined with a cheesecloth or even a coffee filter. Set the strainer over a large bowl, ideally one from which you’ll be able to easily pour afterward. Pour the vodka mixture through the strainer and allow the fruit to sit, seeping liquid, for a good hour or so, stirring a bit and pressing if need be to make the liquid go through.

Now taste the vodka. Add sugar if you want an after-dinner liqueur, or leave it out if you want something sharper. Pour (or ladle) into a decorative bottle.

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