Obsessing over cherries and making my own liqueurs…

Updated with prettier pictures of the finished projects & much blushing to see this included on the PPK 100 for 2012!

If you’re looking to make your own syrups for drinks, per #52, check out my Rhubarb & Rangpur Lime syrup and Hot Chili, Lime & Sea Salt syrup.

Homemade Liqueurs on Get Sconed!

Finished products: lemongrass & mint, cherry brandy and plum & blueberry.

Homemade Liqueurs on Get Sconed!

Apparently I now host homemade liqueur tastings in my apartment. Bar design by J. Legume

Homemade Liqueurs on Get Sconed!

Every summer there’s a fruit that takes precedence above all others in my life. I have room for them all, but there’s that one I just can’t get enough of. One year, it’s plump blueberries, the next, juicy strawberries, the next, Oregon’s tart marionberries, or sweet, rich blackberries… of any variety I can get my hands on. For me, the summer of 2012 was the summer of the cherry. Chelan, Rainiers, Bings, Stella…whatever the farmers markets happen to be offering that day. I was loving them fresh, baked into muffins, added sweetness to sauces, starring in pies, crushed into cocktails, soaked in brandy, pitted and frozen for this winter, and possibly the most glamorously, as the base of brandy and liqueurs. Fast forward three months, and my array of homemade liqueurs are nearly ready, and naturally, more than one features my favorite fruit of the summer.

Just like this project, the photos themselves are definitely with their own DIY charm. I’m going to put them into classy jars any day now…

The local-bar-in-progress includes:

  • Italian Prune & Plum
  • Plum & Blueberry
  • Brown Sugar & Peach
  • Lemongrass & Mint
  • Cherry Brandy
  • Cherry & Cranberry
  • Blackberry Brandy

More about DIY fruit liqueur:

The basics are incredibly simple – combine sugar, fresh fruit and liqour in a jar, and let sit. With the three jars of brandy, I let the fruit absorb the sugar for 24 hours, and then added the liquid. The lemongrass and mint, unlike the jars that still contain fruit, were strained after 48 hour period. All of the fresh produce was locally sourced, and many are hand-picked, with the exception of the lemongrass and cranberries.

Because I’ll be straining the fruit, I do not pit anything. And because I’m cheap, I’ve bottled amounts in small mason jars (halving the ingredients below), and opted for truly bottom shelf vodka and brandy over pure grain alcohol. If your fruit is of a more sour variety, then your liqueur will echo that. And so on, for a sweeter variety, so use what you prefer – or if you’re open, simply use whatever you have local access to.

At the end of cherry season (go figure), I was able to pick up several pounds of late season cherries for a discounted price, and there went the remainder of my mason jars. My apologies to the lentils.

Tofu & Chickpea Noodle Soup, paired with fresh cherry mojitos

The Basics:

  • 1 lb. fresh fruit, rinsed (if you’re using whole, soft fruit, such as plums or cherries – make sure to pierce a few times; if you’re using apples or another firmer fruit, slice)
  • 3 cups vodka (use half brandy if you’d like to make a brandy)
  • 1.5 cups granulated sugar, preferably white

This is the very gist of how to go about doing things. As I mentioned above, there are slightly different steps you can take and of course, flavors combinations that you can consider.

If you’re making a liqueur, combine the fruit, alcohol and sugar, and let sit for several weeks, stirring well and shaking on a regular basis. Let strain, and sit another few weeks. It’s all that sugar that technically makes what you’re doing a liqueur.

If you’re making a brandy, combine the fruit and sugar, and let sit for 24 hours, add the alcohol, and repeat the above procedure. 

You can strain after several weeks, or a short handful of months, for a richer flavor.

Strain well, and a few times, if need be, and bottle well. Most importantly  label your results, and share with friends.

Use in cocktails, desserts, in salad dressings, or whatever else you fancy.

Local Liqueurs on Get Sconed!

Local Liqueurs on Get Sconed!


Local Liqueurs on Get Sconed!

Khao San Whiskey Sour with galangal & brandy soaked cherries. From the Heartichoke series.

Hey, you’ve got a good month til the end of the year – get to work!


  1. I recently made grenadine and I LOVE it! Super easy and very diverse. It makes bourbon totally approachable, which bourbon never was for me. Hmmm, maybe that’s not a good thing? Regardless, I’m all about the homemade booze these days. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. These sound great. Here in Australia it’s nearly cherry season so I’ll be making liqueur cherries for Christmas presents. Just got inspired and wrote about it on my latest blogpost on ‘The good the Bad and the Italian’. cheers

  3. Thanks for the wonderful ideas, will definitely be making some of these.
    Dumb question time: what are some ways that the fruit could be used if/when they are removed from the liqueur?:
    Thanks for all your inspirations, Jess!

    1. Hi Laura,
      Totally not dumb!
      You could use them in a sauce for use on desserts (even strained, and added as a base flavour for buttercreams or cakes or whatnot). I have a jar of strained cherry brandy at home that, even though they’re poked, I’m using to garnish in drinks. Enjoy!

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