Life is more than just a bowl of Cherries!

“Life is just a bowl of Cherries; Don’t make is serious; Life’s too mysterious.” Life is just a bowl of Cherries: Song by Doris Day

I have often thought July should really be National Cherry Month instead of February. After all in the Pacific Northwest and especially in Washington State that is when the cherries season begins. Washington is the top producer of Cherries grown in the United States with two varieties, Sweet Red and Rainier Cherries making up the majority of the 10 commercially produced types of Cherries. There is a National Cherry Day in the United Kingdom that is celebrated on July 16th, but no National Cherry day is celebrated in the United States. There are national cherry food days, but nothing that gives this beautiful fruit the celebration that it truly deserves in the month of its harvest. For this reason I am declaring my own Cherry celebration with some recipes that bring out the natural flavor of this sweet fruit.

What is Celebrated in July is a collection of popular cocktails. July 10th was Pina Colada day, today July 11th is National Mojito Day, and the 19th is National Daiquiri Day. Fresh Ripe Cherries can bring a bright and refreshing twist to homemade cocktails with their robust sweet flavor and striking color.

Cherry & Mint Simple Syrup

A delicious Cherry & Mint Simple Syrup can be used in both of the following cocktail recipes. To prepare the simple syrup begin by boiling 1 cup of water and 1 cup of granulated sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add 1 1/2 cup of pitted crushed cherries and 20 fresh mint leaves. Let it set and cool for 30 minutes, then strain and chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Celebrating National Mojito Day with a Washington Cherry Mojito.

The mojito is a traditional Cuban highball, and is rumored to be a drink favored by the author, Ernest Hemingway.

CHERRY MOJITOS
yield: 4 TO 6 COCKTAILS

INGREDIENTS:
1 1/2 cups pitted fresh cherries (reserve a few for garnish)
½ cup Cherry & Mint Simple Syrup
2 limes
8 ounces white rum
club soda, chilled
ice cubes

In a blender or food processor, blend chilled simple syrup and cherries. Pour through a strainer, discard the cherry pulp and keep the sweetened cherry juice.

Place 4 to 5 mint leaves in the bottom of 4 to 6 tall glasses. Squeeze half a lime into each glass. Add 2 ounces of rum to each glass. Use a muddler (or the handle of a wooden spoon) to smash the mint leaves, lime juice and rum together. Divide the sweetened cherry juice between the four glasses. Top each drink off with chilled club soda. Stir and add an ice cubes, garnish with fresh cherries and mint leaves.

If life gives you lemons return them and ask for cherries and make a Cherry Mojito!

A frosty and sweet Cherry Daiquiri with a chocolate twist.

A Cherry Daiquiri that is fun and refreshing, served this Frozen Daiquiri with a scoop of Tillamook Chocolate Cherry Fudge Ice Cream for a spiked float.

Frozen Cherry Daiquiri

Ingredients
1 cup cherry juice (I used the Simple Truth Brand Dark Cherry Juice, do not use tart cherry juice).
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
3/4 cup white rum
2 cups frozen sweet cherries (pit cherries and freeze overnight)
1/2 cup Cherry & Mint Simple Syrup
Chocolate Cherry Ice Cream or Vanilla ice cream
Instructions
Start by making the Cherry ice cubes as they need time to freeze. Pour one cup of cherry juice into an ice cube tray (approximately 12 ice cubes) and freeze until solid.
Daiquiris:
Place 1/2 cup cherry juice, cherry & lime simple syrup, lime juice, rum, frozen cherries, and all of the cherry juice ice cubes into a blender. Blend until completely combined and slushy. If desired, add additional plain ice cubes to thicken it or additional chilled cherry juice to thin it out to meet your desired consistency. Serve immediately. Add a scoop of ice cream to make a decadent float.

“Never economize on the small luxuries of life. Drinking fine wine and eating chocolate won’t solve your problems – but they won’t hurt either.” -Ernie J Zelinski

It is no secret that chocolate and cherry make great flavor companions. For a quick and delicious chocolate and wine pairing dessert make a batch of Roasted Cherry Dark Chocolate Brownies, but lets booze those cherries up before roasting for some extra flavor.

Prior to roasting the cherries I selected a Barrel Finished Honey Spirit from Up North Distillery to soak the cherries. Place the cherries in a mason jar and fill with a selected spirit for at least an hour.

Roasted Cherry Dark Chocolate Brownies

INGREDIENTS
1 cup fresh pitted cherries (soaked in the spirit of your choice)
Ghirardelli Ultimate Fudge brownie mix (prepared according to directions)
Ice Cream
INSTRUCTIONS
Drain the cherries and cut in half. Sprinkle with raw or brown sugar and roast at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.
Prepare brownie mix. Remove cherries from the oven and reduce oven temperature according to brownie directions.
Mix cooled cherries into the brownie batter and bake according to brownie directions. Top with ice cream!

This brownie is made even better with a scoop of the same Tillamook Chocolate Cherry Fudge Ice Cream used in the Frozen Daiquiri recipe.

The Cherries and Chocolate lead nicely to a pairing with a Zinfandel.

1000 Stories Bourbon Barrel Aged Zinfandel

This tangy and balanced wine is full of intense red fruit aromas with swirls of spice and pepper. Luscious deep blackberry and spice flavor mingled with the smokiness of the new bourbon barrel aging make for a perfect pairing with the Roasted Cherry Dark Chocolate Brownies.

Celebrating Cherry Season doesn’t get any sweeter than this.

Images © Drink In Nature Photography and Drink In Life Blog.

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