Late in July I bought more cherries from a roadside stand somewhere between Manistee and Traverse City. My husband and I camped at Orchard Beach State Park while the kids were at their respective camps - the eldest at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp for art and the youngest at Boy Scout camp in Ohio. We went wine tasting and canoeing and had a great time. I'll say I got the cherries in Empire, because I remember stopping by the Grocer's Daughter to sample the fine chocolates. Inspired by Melissa Clark in the NY Times, I made some real maraschino cherries. By the end of the season, I was really sick of pitting cherries, so the cherry brandy was a recipe that didn't require it, which appealed to me.
The recipe is pretty simple - and if you live in Michigan and want to make some right now, you can buy frozen sour cherries from Traverse City right now at Meijer. The cherries are edible when it's done, but they aren't at their prime visually. The maraschino cherries definitely look better.
2 lb stemmed sour cherries
1 cup sugar
3 cups brandy (I used cherry brandy made at Black Star Farms in Traverse City)
Layer cherries and sugar in a 2 quart jar. Cover the cherries with brandy. Close the jar with a tight fitting cap and shake to dissolve the sugar. Store the jar in a cool dark place, shaking occasionally. The brandy will be ready in about 3 months.
I developed this Michigan cocktail that I dubbed "The Wolverine" because Michigan is the Wolverine State. I hope the Spartan fans aren't offended....I didn't name it the Wolverine because I went to the U of M Business School. My heart lies with my beloved Michigan Tech Huskies, where I went to undergrad and graduate school to study engineering.
Here's how I made my cocktail:
1 shot cherry flavored brandy (home made)
1 shot vodka (I used vodka from New Holland Brewery in Holland, MI - 155 miles)
1 shot apple cider (Wasems Orchard - 23 miles)
Shake with crushed ice and serve up in a martini glass. Or, add some club soda (Faygo - Detroit MI 50 miles) and serve on the rocks in a highball.