If you follow me on twitter or facebook then you will know that this week I have been all about the Cherry Vodka. I am no stranger to making flavoured vodkas as I used to work in a cocktail bar, many years ago, where the in-house, flavoured vodkas were our speciality. Most were sugary sweet like the Loveheart Vodka I showed you how to make in an earlier post, but I was intrigued to try making a fruit infused vodka. I settled on cherry because I figured the colour would be pretty amazing and also because I had some in the freezer, left over from making Cherry Margaritas. As I said before, I think frozen cherries are just fine for cocktail making. They are frozen at the point of picking and retain all the colour and flavour. The only thing lacking, when they defrost, is a little of the firmness, but when you are squishing them up or steeping them for days in vodka, it doesn't really matter. I used Absolut Vodka because that was what I had and I would recommend that you use something of a similar or even higher quality. This is a fruit infusion and the flavour is quite subtle and not sweetened with sugar so the quality of the vodka will make a big difference to the end result. If you fancy giving it a go yourself, follow the simple steps below.
How to make Cherry Vodka
You will need
300ml good quality vodka
100g frozen cherries
Pour out 300ml of vodka into a clean measuring jug. Obviously you can make more if you wish - just scale up the quantities accordingly.
Place the cherries in a sieve and run cold water over them to get rid of the ice glaze - if you don't, when the cherries defrost in the vodka, you'll actually be inadvertently adding water. Similarly, allow the cherries to drain before adding them to the vodka.
Transfer the cherries into an airtight container, cover with the vodka, close the lid and wait.....
And finally , on the fifth day, it was good to go.
As you can see, the colour got more intense with each passing day and depending on your patience, you could leave it even longer, although the cherries themselves, by this point, have lost their colour and flavour, so I'm not convinced it would produce any better a result.
The cherries had retained their shape and it would probably have been fine just to use a sieve, but incase the fruit should break up when you separate it from the vodka, I suggest using a coffee filter paper. They will come in handy, should you decide to try the Loveheart Vodka too.
Allow the cherries to drain for quite a while as they are holding a lot of vodka.
Store the left over cherries in an airtight container in the fridge. With so much vodka in them, it would be a shame to throw them away!
Pour your vodka into a clean bottle and label it clearly to avoid any mishaps (especially if you have children).
So now you have your Cherry Vodka, what can you make with it? Well, of course, you could just drink it schnapps style, but that's not for the fainthearted. There is a sweetness to the vodka and a fruitiness that makes it quite palatable, but it's no sweet liqueur and in my opinion, it is best suited to cocktail making., so here are a few ideas.
1 1/2oz Cherry Vodka
1oz Cherry Heering
2oz Vita Coco
1/2oz fresh lime juice
Vita Coco, if you haven't heard of it before, is natural coconut water with no added sugar. It has an almost imperceptible coconut flavour and a slight natural sweetness. It is very different to coconut milk or coconut creme, both of which are quite calorific and thicker in texture. Apparently it's very good for you - lots of electrolytes, which is a good thing, so the blurb says, but that's probably a moot point when it's in an alcoholic beverage. Still, every little helps I suppose.
This recipe also contains Cherry Heering which adds a stronger cherry flavour and some sweetness. You can read more about Cherry Heering and where to buy it, in my Alfresco Cocktails post.
Add all of the ingredients to a shaker and add a handful of crushed ice
Shake vigorously for 20 secs and strain into chilled cocktail glass
This cocktail has the whole sweet and sour thing going on, that I like so much, but it's fairly subtle, which is nice. It is refreshing and would work well as a long drink over ice, too.
Next up, a very fruity and delicious cocktail that tastes like summer in a glass. It's sweet but in a very natural tasting way and if your fruit tastes sweet enough, don't bother adding the 1/4oz simple syrup
2oz Cherry Vodka
1/4oz simple syrup (optional)
Place the fruit in the shaker and muddle (squish). If you don't have a muddler, I find the handle of an ice cream scoop or something similar, works quite well.
Add the Cherry Vodka and a handful of ice
Shake vigorously for 20 secs and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
NB - this cocktail is quite slow to strain through the holes in the shaker as berries become a little gloopy, but be patient, turn the shaker upright again and jiggle it a little before straining out the rest.
This next cocktail is aptly named Lolita. It has an almost bubble gum sweetness due to the apricot brandy that belies its alcoholic content and it is the most sensational colour.
2oz Cherry Vodka
1oz apricot brandy
1/2oz lemon juice
Add all of the ingredients to a shaker with a handful of crushed ice and shake vigorously for 20 secs
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
Our last cocktail today is a tropical inspired little number featuring a lovely rum I picked up in Amathus City a couple of weeks ago, which has an almost coconut flavour of it's own.The addition of fresh pineapple and coconut water, definitely give it that tropical feel and make me long for a more temperate climate. Still, whip up one of these, turn on the heating and samba round the living room - job done.
1oz Cherry Vodka
1oz Flora de Cana rum (or similar quality)
Handful of fresh pineapple
2oz Vita Coco
1/2oz agave nectar (see Ay Caramba post for info on Agave nectar)
Muddle the pineapple in the bottom of the shaker
Add all of the other ingredients, plus a handful of crushed ice
Shake vigorously and strain into chilled cocktail glass
This is another cocktail that would be a lovely drink over ice in a highball glass and perhaps with a squeeze of lime too, but then I like a squeeze of lime on most things.
So there you have it - Cherry Vodka - worth the wait for the colour alone. It's so easy to do, I recommend you give it a whirl, even if it just so you can drink a pink V&T. Have fun making cocktails, drink responsibly and have a wonderful weekend X