Was it worth the two week wait? You betcha! After the initial pitting of 6 cups of cherries and addition of vodka and brandy, the first week we took turns shaking the homemade hooch every day so the fruit and booze could comingle. Done. Next, I added to the concoction a simple syrup I cooked up and it was time to let the liqueur sit and just be for another week. Done.
Now, it’s drinking time! I filtered the whole shebang through a cheesecloth-lined strainer, squeezing out the booze-infused cherries into a smooth fruity stress-reducing taste of heaven. Sweet and strong by itself or in the “I’m with Her” cocktail I created to carry me through the election, it is DELICIOUS. Just shake with ice 1 part cherry liqueur, 1 part vodka and 4 parts OJ. Top with a cherry and let the sipping begin! Here’s to summer in Seattle and a Hillary win in the fall. Cheers!
Watch out world, I’m making my own liqueur now! Over the past few months, I’ve created a cocktail cart, done my due diligence to research key cocktails (hard work but somebody had to do it) and now I’m moving on to creating delicious, nutritious and fruity hooch. There’s no way for me to avoid my passion for politics in this crazy presidential year, so I’m going to need LOTS of alcohol so, very wisely, I thought why not make it myself?
With a sale on cherries that are happily now in season and a recipe from my friend Dawn’s blog, I was ready to muddle and mix up some cherry liqueur. Of course, pitting 6 cups of cherries is no small feat so on went the latex gloves as I ripped apart the gorgeous cherries while enjoying the beautiful Seattle day on our patio overlooking Elliott Bay. Needing only one cinnamon stick, I choose not to buy the $10 jar of sticks at the grocery because, really, when will I need another? I am nothing but cheap so we decided to check out Metropolitan Market’s bulk spice section and, sure enough, for only .14 cents, I got the one cinnamon stick I needed. SCORE! I already had the brandy and vodka on the cocktail cart, not being used regularly and, quite frankly, covered in dust. What can I say? My focus has been on whiskey and trying to create the perfect Old Fashioned and I’m oh so close, so my other booze has been feeling a little bit left out. Not any more!
After the pitting session, which my sidekick Thom chose not to participate in and rather just picked out the best cherries to taste, I was off to muddle. Even after quite the aggressive muddling session, I was only able to produce a tiny amount of juice that went into a separate jar for a week while the smashed cherries got the cheerful duty of absorbing the brandy and vodka. After storing in a non-sunny place with a shake here and there over the next week, the boozed-up cherry pieces will finally be reunited with the juice that will be boiled with water and sugar to create syrup. The final leg of the journey requires the mixture to rest for another week before straining out the final product, my very own cherry liqueur.
Then, watch out, it’s drinking time! Since I’m not much of a “shot” girl, I did a little research in my handy cocktail guide and created the “I’m with Her” cocktail to drink throughout the political season. I will be saving the straight shots for the debates and take a shot every time Trump says, “Win bigly” or “Big, beautiful wall”. Trust me, it will help. Can’t hurt.
So, here’s my proposed “I’m With Her” cocktail to celebrate our first female president-to-be. It will be a fruit-infused celebration in your mouth with enough kick to get you through the sure-to-be crazy upcoming political season. Now that I think about it, this cherry liqueur will come in handy to house in a flask (still need to get one of these!) when I stand out in the freezing cold at the inauguration of our first female president. Can’t wait! No, I’m not taking her victory for granted and I will do everything in my power to support her but I can’t imagine the alternative without going crazy so I’ll just be hopeful. And drink. A lot.
I’m With Her Cocktail
1parts homemade Cherry Liqueur
4 parts orange juice (I would say “fresh squeezed” like the cocktail books like to say but let’s face it, who has that sitting around in their fridge when the need for a cocktail strikes??
Dash of lime juice or bitters-whichever you have just for variety
Prep-chill the glass. Mix-shake the ingredients with ice vigorously enough to skip the gym. Strain into a glass, the prettier, the better. Garnish. ALOT. Fresh fruit or maraschino cherries or a sugar rim or umbrella decoration. Just pick whatever is fun for you. This is a celebration damn it! Enjoy. Cheers!
Many thanks to Dawn who shared this great recipe for cherry liqueur on her blog, First Look, Then Cook. Check out her great food recipes too. She may even inspire me to cook!
6 cups Bing cherries, pitted
1 cup brandy
1/2 cup vodka
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick, broken
Put the pitted cherries at the bottom of a sealable glass jar and muddle them with a wooden spoon or muddler to release some juice. Drain the juice into a separate container and set aside. Then add the brandy, vodka, and cinnamon stick to the muddled cherries. Seal and shake the jar. Let steep for one week at room temperature away from direct sun, shaking every few days.
Combine the reserved cherry juice, sugar, and water in a pan and bring to a boil, stirring frequently until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool. Once the syrup is cooled, add it to the steeping jar, seal, and shake. Then let it steep for an additional 2 to 5 days. Strain through fine-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth into glass jar or bottle. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.
Some might call us pampered after reading this story but, hey, life can be rough here in China so we have embraced the spa culture here with open arms…and backs and feet and hands and… well,you get the idea, right? Sure, we get our cookies and groceries delivered to our door but only because the toxic air outside makes it less appealing to walk to the stores and restaurants. Of course we have an Ayi but all Expat’s do and it’s our way to help the local economy by employing Pink, who takes sure good care of us. I wonder if she’ll consider a move to Boise eventually. I think if we had a car/driver like most expats do, we would be stupid spoiled. However, we do keep it real daily by taking the subway and walking the streets like locals, which means we are nimble and can dodge the spitballs and pools of bodily fluid with the best of them. Thus, the need to be pampered thoroughly and often by Dragonfly Massage, our chosen oasis of serenity and happiness….ahhhh….
When offered the Dragonfly Spring Special to receive an additional 1000RMB in gift certificates if we renewed our 5000RMB VIP membership, we were all over it. WHY, YES PLEASE! When we opted for the VIP Package with Dragonfly in late fall, we thought it would last a really long time—surely a year. How many massages does a couple need, really? Turns out the answer to that question is LOTS! As our massage date nights have become more frequent, one might say addictive, the VIP card balance was declining rapidly so we both deemed it necessary and prudent to allocate serious funds to continue our habit. We’ll just eat less. Sure. That’s it.
Friday night rolled around and so we set off to enjoy Happy Hour and then on to a night of Mani/Pedi’s. When Morton’s was too busy and couldn’t fit us in, we went next door to Isola and enjoyed the floor to ceiling view of the Pearl Tower and excellent service. After toasting the good life in Shanghai and quaffing down a few martini’s and pizza (just 88RMB for 2 drinks/free food–saving $$ for massages), we descended into the subterranean lower levels of the swanky IFC Mall in Pudong to Dragonfly.
Thom being a mani/pedi virgin, his feet and hands needed some serious attention. His cuticles were crying for attention, well more like screaming in madness, and his lucky salonist had the honor of clipping and chopping enough of Thom’s DNA off to create a Thom MiniMe. Looking like shaved parmesian curls only far less appetizing, the dead skin peeled off Thom’s foot in panels and covered the floor. Get these ladies a Roomba!
As I snapped photos and Thom joked around, his salonist laughed and thought Thom was hilarious, which of course he is. Thom, ambivalent about the whole mani/pedi process before trying it, is now a huge fan and considering a return visit soon. It is addictive to have those clean cuticles!
Leaving Dragonfly a shoe size smaller and light on our feet, we walked home and rested up for a second round of spa treatments on Saturday morning.
Using our free spa packages that we won at the Irish Ball, we arrived at the Jungle Spa bright and early Saturday morning (that’s 10 a.m. in China–no one moves early here) for our facials and massages. While we had lotions and potions applied to our skin and she launched an attack on my nose with a sharp instrument, our feet basked in a foot sauna machine with rolling balls of wonderful torture. Spoiled? I reflected on that as she rubbed my head. Okay, maybe. We were both new to facials and decided that we might have to add this to our rotation of spa treatments. With skin as soft as a baby bottom and looking 10 years younger at least (perhaps there was some aroma therapy going on too that made us hallucinate) we headed off to pamper the rest of our bodies with a 70 minute hot oil stone full body massage.
In a room for two, we put on the teeny tiny undergarments provided (let’s hope they only use once and throw away) and laid face down on the table. These lovely little ladies proceeded to thump..HARD…knead and dig into our muscles with such gusto that at one point as she bent my elbow back to press into my own flesh, I cried out “NO” and stopped it cold before a bone snapped. Damn, those hot stones (not pebbles but big ass rocks) were being rubbed into my spine as the hot oil just dripped off, running down my face onto the floor. I have never had a massage that touched almost every part of my body with a few square inches of exception. I wonder what she thought of my Chinese “Happiness” tatoo that only Thom had seen up to now. Bet they chatted about that after we left-those crazy Laowai’s that we are!
Dripping oil, we showered off and compared notes on what got rubbed and how it felt. Thom was glad I was in the room with him so there were no “happy endings” though this was a nice legit place so I’m sure THAT never happens there. Thom said he could hear my back bones cracking and wondered if I would survive to walk another day. Now, he didn’t stop to ask during the massage if I was okay because he was enjoying his so much but nice to know he thought about me. Surprisingly, though it did hurt ALOT during the massage, I was still able to get up off the table and take a walk afterward with no ill effects. HALLELUJAH! We look forward to taking our friends, Larry and Patti, here when they visit us. Patti may never go back to Indiana after a full day spa treatment in Shanghai.
Now, as the rain beats down hard, I am happy that I am wrapped in a soft, warm blanket at home, smooth skin and all, getting ready for a House of Cards marathon with my best friend..after nap time, of course. What an exhausting day!