Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Revolutionary Beverage

The lately-affianced Miff Dandridge fhews the moft Taftie Parte of her Dowrie 
(Aprill, 1750)

A couple of years ago I read this bit in the WSJ:

"As the first first lady, Mrs. Washington served Cherry Bounce in the president’s house. Abigail Adams would write to her sister about “Mrs. W’s publick day” party on New Year’s Day, 1790: The two delicacies of the season were “a kind of cake in fashion upon this day call’d New Year’s Cooky. This & Cherry Bounce.”

The article was about Cherry Bounce. I read bits to Janet who also thought it sounded way cool, so we saved that section of the paper until this year. Like Martha Washington, we're hosting a New Year's Day party, and the featured beverage will be homemade Cherry Bounce per Martha's recipe.

Janet bought (or had) the ingredients, along with some big preserving jars. First thing was to apportion the cherries sans stems into the jars along with sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon. Ideally the whole process takes 3 months. We didn't have 3 months, so we wrapped the filled jars in an electric blanket. Within a few days they were all fermenting away. Tonight we turned the blanket off and moved the jars into the kitchen.

They smell good. Very powerful and...elemental. Each jar had started off packed to the top with cherries, but  now each one was about 2/3 full of warm, aromatic, fermenting juice. At this point we ran each jar's contents though the blender at low speed to break up the cherries without (we hope) grinding up the pits. This seemed to work pretty well.

Then we added cognac. The proportion is about 1 part (quart) cognac to 2 parts (pounds) cherry. Because the jars were at or below the 2/3 level, it was easy to top them off with 1/3 cognac. Total liquid is about 4 gallons.

We resealed them, and won't open them again 'til New Years when we'll strain the chilled contents into a punch bowl. Looks like an auspicious beginning to the new year.