Moonshine was often used to preserve fruit, which is the inspiration for this take on the classic Manhattan cocktail. These days you can buy a clear corn whiskey, a nod to the original hooch, without fearing a raid from the Feds. The saturated cherries can also be eaten a la carte, served over cake or ice cream, or used to embellish other concoctions.
Moonshine Cherries Ingredients:
1 pound cherries, pitted (Bing are great)
1 orange peel, cut into thick strips
1 pint clear Virginia corn whiskey/Virginia moonshine
Combine the cherries and orange peel in a pint jar. Pour the whiskey over the top to completely cover the cherries. Seal and shake slightly; allow the cherries to steep at room temperature for at least 24 hours before using. (Stored in a sealed jar in the refrigerator, the cherries will keep for up to 3 months.)
2 1⁄2 oz. Virginia bourbon or other Virginia whiskey
3⁄4 oz. sweet vermouth
1 dash Angostura bitters
1⁄2 tsp. juice from the drunken cherries
1 drunken cherry
NOTE: You can substitute Virginia bourbon for Virginia corn whiskey to marinate the cherries.
Combine the bourbon, vermouth, bitters, and juice from the drunken cherries, and crushed ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass, preferably a martini glass, and add a drunken cherry. Rub the orange peel around the rim of the glass and twist it over the cocktail to release its oils. Add the twist to the glass and serve immediately.
Patrick Evans-Hylton of Virginia Eats + Drinks Magazine; Croc’s 19th Street Bistro
620 19th St, Virginia Beach, VA 23451