Category Archives: Other

Ron’s Nearly World Famous Maraschino Cherries

This is a must try if you like Cherries to garnish your cocktails. It is my rendition from a multitude of recipes I researched, homogenizing them and tweaking to it to make, in my opinion, the Best Maraschino Cherries, Period!

Just for clarification, what I am calling real Maraschino Cherries is not what I grew up knowing them to be. Those types of Cherries are readily available in supermarkets which are blanched to the point of being almost clear then dumped in a vat of sucrose or corn syrup with massive amounts of red dye. These are NOT real Maraschino Cherries, even though the jar may indicate so on the label. My Cherries are of the “Old School” type where Maraschino Liqueur and real Cane Sugar are the base ingredients with a variety of natural spices. I am not a fan of the thick syrup that is typically found in commercially available real Maraschino Cherries so I have reduced the amount of Sugar in my recipe. My syrup is much lighter and does not have the consistency of motor oil. I also reduced the amount of Maraschino Liqueur ever-so-slightly, replacing it with Bourbon (or Rye). Additionally, making your own Cherries is rewarding, better tasting and more cost effective than paying $20 for a small jar of mushy Cherries with a fancy label made commercially.

Ingredients for 1 pound of Cherries:

·    1 Pound of fresh Cherries, pitted with stems removed (I prefer using Michigan Bings)

·    ¾ Cup of Cane Sugar

·    ¾ cup of water

·    ½ cup of Maraschino Liqueur (I use Luxardo but can be substituted with other manufacturers)

·    ¼ cup of Bourbon (or Rye if desired)

·    ¼ Vanilla Bean, scraped (1 Tsp of Vanilla Extract if Vanilla Bean is not available)

·    ½ Tsp of Almond Extract

·    1 Cinnamon Stick (I cut mine in fourths)

·    Juice from 1 Lemon (2 Tbsp. of Lemon Juice if real Lemons are not available)

·    4 individual orbs of Allspice

Preparation:

·        In a medium sized saucepan (or larger pan if making a multi-batch) add the cane sugar and scraped vanilla bean caviar (or 1 Tsp of Vanilla Extract). Cook on medium, add the cinnamon sticks, allspice, juice from 1 lemon and water. Bring contents to a boil then turn down to a simmer for +/- 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

·        Add the fresh Cherries, continue cooking at a simmer for +/- 5 minutes and are slightly softened. Remove from the heat and stir in Maraschino liqueur and Bourbon. Allow the contents to cool down slightly warmer than room temperature (100* F) while continuing to stir occasionally.

·        Fill the canning jars with Cherries to the jars shoulders and back-fill with the juice to just cover the Cherries. If you are canning, follow the proper canning prep procedures. If you are not canning them you must put them directly in the refrigerator. Have the jars ready and warm or slightly hot, timing them to the point to where the Cherries are ready to be placed in them. I have found that the short 8 oz. Ball jars work best as their size does not lend to too much product in one container especially if you cannot consume the entire jar inside of 6 weeks or are giving them away as a gift. For a stronger aroma of Allspice and Cinnamon, leave the residual remains of the spices in the batch and include them in your stored jars otherwise you may want to remove them before canning or cook with the spices in a mesh bag. You will need about 3-4 jars per 1 lb. of fresh Cherries used. I have tried the recipe both ways, by canning them then storing in a pantry and placing them directly in the refrigerator. There is a big difference in texture between storing in a pantry and refrigerating them. The texture of the Cherries is a bit mushy stored in a pantry and much firmer if stored directly in a refrigerator.

Making Maraschino Cherries in winter:

Since fresh Cherries are simply nonexistent in the winter, you can substitute frozen for the fresh Cherries. You will get a bit different taste, usually a bit sweeter, due to the sugars crystallizing during the flash-freeze process but they are not as large or firm. The prep is nearly identical as with fresh Cherries with the difference being you must cook them a bit longer if not thawed prior to adding them to the sauce pan. If they are added frozen, turn the heat down to medium and cook for 7-10 minutes. On a side note, I experimented with 4 different types/brands of frozen Cherries and have found the Trader Joe’s “sweet dark” variety to be the best. I found them to be larger in size, firmer and sweeter than any of the others.

Voila!

You now have your very own homemade Maraschino Cherries that will surpass anything you can buy, by both taste and quality. You can eat them straight-away but it is best to let the flavors marry for 2-3 days. If you don’t can them, they will last up to 6 weeks in the fridge. If you can them, they will last up to 6 months or more (if not opened). After the canned Cherries have been opened, the shelf life is the same as not canning them, up to 6 weeks in the refrigerator. Always keep them refrigerated if they are not canned or after they are opened.

These Cherries are great for an out-of-this world Old-Fashioned or Manhattan. I typically enjoy my Cherries in Bourbon on the rocks adding a teaspoonful of the juice and a splash or two of my favorite Bitters. Of course, you could always use them on ice cream but why? Bourbon is so much better!

Cheers, Ron!

Father’s Day gift? Bourbon!

What do Dad’s really want for Father’s Day? As both of us are fathers we have a pretty good idea. It’s not ties, golf balls, sweaters, or shirts. Both of us just tell our kids to come by and spend some time with us and the family. We believe that is the real gift that most Fathers would ask for.

But! If you insist  on bringing a gift when you visit, why not a bottle of Bourbon? Your dad will appreciate the gesture, will appreciate the Bourbon and it is something he can share with his friends and co- workers. But which bottle to buy? That depends on your dad.

If your father is somewhat sophisticated, older, maybe is into wine as well, and entertains a lot, we recommend Willett Pot Still Reserve Bourbon. WPSR comes in an elegant bottle that reminds you of a wine decanter.  In fact both of us have used the empty bottle for that purpose. So you get a good Bourbon that makes for a great presentation and the bottle can  be re-purposed. Willett Pot Still Reserve sells for around $40. Angel’s Envy would be another good choice in this price range.

If money is not a concern and your dad is a Bourbon guy, we have a few suggestions. And no, we are not recommending anything from the Pappy line. With the consideration that is nearly IMPOSSIBLE to find, we both think they are over priced and quite possibly over-rated. However if you want to spend upwards of $60+ on dad you can buy some really great Bourbon. While we have a lot we could put in this category we are sticking to the ones that are still somewhat available. Angel’s Envy Rye, anything from Colonel Taylor, High West’s Rendezvous Rye and Bourye, Michter’s Single Barrel or Rye and Blanton’s.  All of these would make your Bourbon-loving Dad very happy.

If pops is into Bourbon but you are a little pinched for cash, or you traditionally spend in the $20 to $30 range, here are few suggestions. If you can find Weller’s Antique, your dad will forever be in your debt, but be warned it is hard to find. For more readily available  juice we highly recommend Elijah Craig, great stuff, is aged 12 years and usually can be found for around the $26 range. Another great deal for under $30 is Bulleit Bourbon and Bulleit Rye, especially the Rye. In fact the Rye is one of our favorites at any price. With Bulleit you have the added benefit of a cool “Old School” corked bottle.

If your Father is really not that in to Bourbon but you think he would be if he just gave it a chance, try these. Bernheim is a Wheated Whiskey that has a very sweet taste and finish. Buffalo Trace is another easy drinking mild Bourbon that is also pretty easy on the wallet. Crown Royal, which like Bernheim is not really a Bourbon, is another good starter or introduction to Bourbon type drinks.

Of course you can also get him whatever your personal favorite might be. You can also throw in a couple of whiskey glasses or what some call Old Fashioned glasses. A whiskey decanter is always a cool and welcome gift. Both the glasses and the decanter make a better gift if accompanied by something to pour into them. This way, you too, can enjoy the libation with proper presentation. Even if it’s not the top shelf stuff, Bourbon always tastes better in the right glass.

Whatever you choose this Father’s Day, remember the best gift is to go and see your dad. If distance and circumstance make that impossible this year, at least reach out by phone. Hopefully you will be able to go see dad, hopefully with a bottle of Bourbon in hand.

 

 

Rating bourbon

Figuring out a unique rating  system has been harder than both of us thought. We wanted somehow to compare the juice in a quantitative/numerical way.

Too many reviews and ratings mention color, and while I know that might be important to some, it is not to us. The point system that we have seen, similar to wine, gives an equal treatment to all categorizes.  We think taste should weigh more than anything else.

Having said all that, we will rate the bourbon we taste in the following manner.

Up to10 barrels for taste.

Up to 5 barrel for Nose.

Up to 5 barrel for finish.

So if we give a certain whiskey 7 barrels for taste, 3 barrels for nose and a 2 barrels for finish, we would give it an over all rating of 12 out of twenty  barrels.

As you can see this puts the emphasis on taste over all else, because while we don’t know about you, that is why we drink it.

We will also describe what we are tasting, and will bring up the price. Price will play a part of our decision on whether to recommend the product or not. There are a lot of bourbons out there that taste good, but still don’t justify the price. Price will not influence the ratings, just the recommendation.

On tasting note. When we say it is hot, that means there is a burn, not necessarily high proof. We have tasted barrel strength stuff that still went down with out burning. All the rest of the terms should be easily understood. Same on the smell.

On the finish, a few things we look for. First, does it change flavor much going down as opposed to in the mouth? And was it a good change? Next, how long was the finish? By this we mean how long can you taste the juice after you have swallowed. Good bourbon should linger a little bit.

You can refer back to this page whenever you like, it is under the category bourbon.

Next up, Angel’s Envy Rye.

 

 

 

Three to Try

We get asked a lot what is a good starter bourbon. What that person asking usually means is,  what is one that is a good representation of what a good bourbon should taste like, without breaking the bank.

We have come up with three. These all can be found for under $30.00 and we believe represent a good cross section. We both highly recommend you buy all three, so you can taste the differences side to side. I know that sucks if you are on a budget.  But buying one and drinking it until gone then purchasing the next, makes it hard to detect the subtle differences in the flavor profile.

We are not going to rate these three today, this is just a recommendation for a few bottles to start your bourbon cabinet, and to determine what style you might prefer.

Todd: I like to taste just a very small amount neat, or straight. By this I mean just a very small sip. I then add some water, depending on proof, sometimes just a few drops, taste again. I then add some ice.

Ron: I pour a shot and like to drink the whole thing straight at room temperature. I can then determine what it needs, if anything, for the next time I have that particular one.

That is our way, you can decide yours. As always we are open to suggestion.

We would recommend Elijah Craig 12 year old. This is a favorite of both of ours. This has what we call a classic bourbon taste.

Second, Bulliet rye, or their green label, as the name implies, this is a rye, meaning it has over 50% rye as opposed to corn. This is a great rye at any price, but a real bargain under $30.00.

And finally Weller’s Antique or Special Reserve. These are wheated bourbons, meaning they replace the rye with wheat. If you cannot find either of these two, try Larceny.

Would love to know what you think of these, or if you have another one to add to the list.

First blog

I know that is a weak title, but just trying to figure things out. The site is nowhere being finished.

This is Todd, Ron is working his real job at the moment.

If you are reading this, you probably love bourbon. Ron and I are right with you. We talk so much about it that we decided to create this Blog. We figured there has to be a lot of people like us who not only love drinking bourbon, but love to talk about it. When the site is completely done I hope to have people being able to participate in the discussions. Tell us what you the reader thinks about our ratings, maybe suggest your own. Maybe suggest something for us to try. In the mean time, here goes first blog!

I always get asked by people who don’t drink bourbon, what do I see in it. Why do I like it so much?

First of all is the taste, and while bourbon has a wide range of flavor profiles, a few almost always come through for me. In no order, oak/wood, molasses/brown sugar, spice, especially in a high rye,  a smokiness, vanilla and caramel.  I can also sometimes taste mint, tobacco, and even fruit. I like the fact that, like wine, almost everybody taste something a little different, even if we are all drinking the same juice.

Second, I like the history of bourbon, which we will get into much later. I also like the rules the distillers have to abide by to call it bourbon. We will get into that later as well.

Third, I like that it is a uniquely American spirit.

And last, I like the fact that I can drink it neat and a certain taste will come through. I can add a little water and a different taste comes through. I can add ice for a an even different profile, and it makes a good mixer. If I feel it is too hot, add water. If I don’t really like it at all, which is very rare, add soda.

Well that is all for this first post. We will try and get one out every week.