Don’t Leave Home Without It!
Martha’s Cherry Bounce
Among the papers of Martha Washington was found a memo written on her husband’s stationary. It was a recipe for Cherry Bounce, a homemade cherry liqueur that was one of George Washington’s favorite drinks. He liked it so much that he took it along with him on trips and often served it to guests at Mount Vernon. In September, 1784, he packed a”Canteen” of it, along with Madeira and port, to fortify himself on a trip west across the Allegheny Mountains.
In her diary, Martha Washington recorded a recipe for making a large batch of cherry bounce. It called for 20 pounds of cherries, cognac, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg – and, crushed cherry stones! Martha’s own recipe called for brandy, sugar, and tart cherries. She also liked to spice it up with whole spices —cloves, cinnamon ,and nutmeg.
The Mount Vernon website has posted a number of recipes from Martha Washington, including her recipe for Cherry Bounce. It calls for 10 to 11 pounds of fresh sour cherries (preferably Morello), sugar, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, nutmeg, and 4 cups of brandy.
The Mount Vernon website is:
The website page for Cherry Bounce is:
The Mount Vernon site explains that you may substitute 3 (1 lb., 9-oz.) jars of preserved Morello cherries for the fresh cherries. (Pit them if they have pits.) See the Internet for suppliers of preserved Morello cherries. (Trader Joe’s is a retailer that may carry them.)
Here is another recipe for Cherry Bounce that uses bourbon and produces 1½ quarts of the liqueur.
You will need: a half-gallon lidded glass jar in which to stir and store the ingredients.
1 quart fresh tart cherries, pitted
1½ cups sugar
½ quart bourbon
- Combine the cherries and sugar in the glass jar and stir.
- Add the bourbon and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
- Attach the lid, shake the jar, and store in a dark place, such as a cabinet or closet, for three months. Stir daily.
- Strain into a clean jar, or jars. Allow the bouce to sit several hours before using. If stored in a moderate, even temperature, it will keep indefinitely.
- Use the discarded cherries for tasty topping on ice cream or pound cake.
Cherry Bounce can be made with a variety of liquor bases and with or without spices. Instead of brandy, some recipes use rum, whiskey, vodka, rye, or bourbon. Vodka is said to keep the cherry flavor true; rum adds sweetness; cognac creates the taste of cherry wine; bourbon or rye creates a smoky and fruity liqueur.
Think Holidays and Gift Giving!
What better way to celebrate a holiday than with Washington’s Cherry Bounce! And, if you have any left over after the holidays (which is doubtful), what better way to toast Washington on his birthday!
Think and plan ahead, keeping in mind that Cherry Bounce takes about three months to make. You might want to make a large batch to have enough for gift giving. Small, decorative jars or Mason jars of Cherry Bounce make a delightful and well-appreciated gift.
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