I am bad at Valentine’s Day. Or, maybe, I am very good at it. My boyfriend and I get each other gifts if the right gift presents itself — this usually takes the form of a vintage pornography poster — but neither of us force the issue. Sometimes we’ll make spaghetti. Sometimes we sous vide lobster tails. We almost always watch a horror movie, and we almost never leave the house.
I do not, however, consider Valentine’s Day to be a couples-only affair. My partner does not enjoy dining out all that much, but that’s ok — I have many friends who do. This year, I’ll be spending Feb. 14 enjoying my first tasting menu in more than two years with a friend. I plan to bring that friend a gift, most likely some boozy homemade cocktail cherries.
Cocktail cherries are cherries that go in cocktails, but they can take many forms: Violently red maraschino cherries (the kind you see on sundaes), deep, dark Luxardo cherries, and cherries that are themselves infused with booze. All are good, but the easiest DIY cherries are that last iteration: fruit soaked in alcohol.
You can soak cherries in full-strength spirits, but they need a little sugar, which makes liqueurs a far better choice. Liqueurs come pre-sweetened, pre-spiced, and in some cases, pre-bittered. All you have to do is pour your liqueur of choice over some cherries and let them hang out in your fridge overnight. Done.
It’s obviously not cherry season, but that’s ok, because you can buy a bag of frozen cherries (get the sweet ones). Once you have your cherries, you’ll need to pick a liqueur. Cherry liqueur is an obvious choice that, unsurprisingly, works quite well. Maraschino is my personal favourite; it’s not overly sweet and has some nice almond notes. (I was out of that so I used a local Kirsch-like liqueur. It was also good.) If you want a more balanced cherry, reach for something herbaceous and bitter, like Campari, Amaro Nonino, or Bigalett China-China.
Once you’ve gathered your fruit and liqueur, dump the cherries in a jar and pour the liqueur on top. Close the jar and give it a gentle shake, then let it sit at room temp until the cherries thaw. Place the jar in the fridge overnight to let the booze infuse the cherries (and the cherries infuse the booze). Put a bow on the jar and give it to someone sweet.