Every year my husband and I go to my parents’ house to help them trim the tree. This was, of course, the first year without my mom there and we tried to make as much merry as possible, hoping to lift my dad’s spirits as much as our own. Even though it was still November (we got an early start on the tree this year!), we lit a fire in the fireplace, cued the Ella Fitzgerald Christmas station on Pandora, and Dad made us festive cocktails.
The cocktail Dad made me this year had black-strap rum in it, which I had never had before. This set off a tiny rum obsession on my part, which has been a lot of fun “researching.” When my friend Emma gave me a great book for Christmas with a recipe for Rumkirschen in it, I was over the moon.
In case you have never heard of it before, Rumkirschen is an eastern European liqueur made from tart Morello cherries and rum. I adore Morello cherries, and Trader Joe’s just happens to sell them. If you don’t have a TJs near you, you can find the cherries at eastern European markets or online.
For the rum, any dark rum will do here (anything but white). I used a black-strap rum that I really enjoy, and it worked amazingly well for this recipe. Once you have combined the rum and cherries, simply refrigerate for at least 3 days (though the longer it sits the more the flavors will develop). The infused cherries are fantastic eaten alone, but the sauce is wonderful too and I like to pour them both over ice cream or pound cake. You can also cut the liquid with soda water or cola to make a fun, light cocktail. I like to put a cherry or two, plus about a tsp of the syrup into champagne for a fun twist on a kir royale. Put into individual jars and sealed, this makes a great unique hostess gift.
From Jar It, Pickle It, Cure It
1 20 ounce jar Morello cherries
About 1 cup of amber or dark rum
You’ll need 2 clean, odor-free, wide-mouthed glass jars with tight-fitting lids for the infusion process (you can reuse the jars the cherries came in, if you like). However, if you plan to give this as a gift or serving it at your next party, consider pouring the infusion into an attractive bottle with a tight-fitting cap.
Drain the cherries into a bowl, reserving the syrup. Pour the syrup into a measuring cup; you should have about 2 cups. Pour half the syrup into each of the 2 jars and divide the strained cherries evenly between the jars. Pour 1/2 cup of rum into each jar.
Cover the jars tightly, label and shake gently to combine. Refrigerate for at least 3 days, though the flavors develop more fully the longer you let it sit. Kept refrigerated, the syrup and fruit will last almost indefinitely.