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Mastering the Art of How to Make Bourbon-Soaked Cherries

a shot of a jar of bourbon-soaked cherries

Last Updated on August 21, 2023 by Lydia Martin

Step into the world of delectable indulgence as I reveal the secrets of how to make bourbon-soaked cherries. These little bursts of flavor are not your ordinary cherries. 

They undergo a tantalizing transformation, immersing themselves in bourbon’s rich, velvety embrace. 

Get ready to embark on a journey where sweetness meets sophistication and tangy cherries mingle with the warmth of bourbon. 

Join me as we explore the art of creating these irresistible treats – it’s time to unlock the magic of how to make bourbon-soaked cherries.

Table of Contents


What are bourbon-soaked cherries?

The bourbon-soaked cherries recipe is cherries that have been submerged in bourbon and left to absorb its flavors, resulting in a delightful combination of cherry sweetness and bourbon’s unique character.

How are bourbon-soaked cherries different from regular cherries?

Bourbon-soaked cherries offer an elevated flavor profile infused with the distinct characteristics of bourbon, such as notes of caramel, vanilla, and oak. They add complexity and depth to dishes and cocktails.

What is the significance of soaking cherries in bourbon?

Soaking cherries in bourbon enhances their flavor, adding layers of complexity and a touch of sophistication. The bourbon’s unique qualities infuse the cherries, creating a delightful treat that can be enjoyed on its own or used to elevate various culinary creations.

Gathering Ingredients and Equipment

What are the key ingredients required for making bourbon-soaked cherries?

  • Cherries: The main ingredients in a homemade bourbon cherries recipe are fresh cherries, preferably dark and sweet. So, buy bourbon cherries such as the Bing or Montmorency. These cherries provide a delightful balance of sweetness and tartness. [1]
  • Bourbon: Choose a good quality bourbon that suits your taste preferences. Look for bourbons with desirable flavors like caramel, vanilla, and oak. The bourbon will infuse the cherries with its unique character.
  • Optional Flavorings: While not necessary, you can enhance the flavor profile of the bourbon-soaked tart cherries by adding optional flavorings. This may include spices like cinnamon sticks or cloves, herbs like mint or thyme, or citrus zest from orange or lemon juice.

What type of cherries should be used for soaking?

The ideal cherries for soaking are dark, firm, and sweet varieties. Bing and Montmorency cherries are commonly recommended due to their flavor profile and texture. These cherries provide a perfect base for absorbing the flavors of the bourbon.

Which bourbon is recommended for the soaking process?

  • Maker’s Mark: Known for its smooth and approachable flavor profile, Maker’s Mark is a popular choice for soaking cherries. Its notes of caramel, vanilla, and oak complement the cherries well.
  • Buffalo Trace: With its rich and complex flavor profile, Buffalo Trace is often favored for bourbon-soaked cherries. It offers notes of caramel, toffee, and spice, which can enhance the flavor infusion.
  • Woodford Reserve: This premium bourbon has a robust and well-balanced taste, making it an excellent choice for soaking cherries. It features flavors of dried fruit, toasted oak, and a hint of sweetness.
  • Four Roses Single Barrel: With its higher proof and distinct spiciness, Four Roses Single Barrel brings bold flavors to bourbon-soaked cherries. It offers a combination of fruity and floral notes, adding complexity to the infusion.
  • Knob Creek: Known for its full-bodied and flavorful profile, Knob Creek provides a rich and robust base for soaking cherries. Its caramel, vanilla, and oak notes contribute to a delightful flavor infusion.
  • Jim Beam Black Label: This bourbon offers a smooth and mellow taste, making it a versatile choice for soaking cherries. It showcases flavors of caramel, vanilla, and a touch of spice.
  • Wild Turkey 101: With its higher proof, Wild Turkey 101 delivers a bolder and more intense flavor. It brings notes of caramel, honey, and oak, which can create a robust flavor infusion in the cherries.

What equipment is necessary for making bourbon-soaked cherries?

  • Container: You will need a container to soak the cherries in bourbon. Choose a non-reactive, food-safe container with a tight-fitting lid. Glass jars or airtight seals are commonly used to maintain freshness.
  • Cherry Pitter (optional): While not essential, a cherry pitter can be useful if you prefer to remove the pits from the cherries before soaking. It allows the bourbon flavors to penetrate the fruit fully, although leaving the pitted cherries can provide a slight almond-like note.
  • Colander or Strainer: You will need a colander or strainer for washing the cherries before soaking them. This helps ensure they are clean and free from any impurities.
  • Clean Towel: Have a clean towel ready to dry the washed cherries before placing them in the soaking container. It’s important to ensure the cherries are completely dry to avoid dilution of the bourbon.

Preparing the Cherries

How should you select and wash the cherries?

Choose fresh, ripe cherries and inspect them for any imperfections. Rinse them gently under cool water and remove any stems or leaves.

Is it necessary to pit the cherries before soaking them?

Pitting cherries is optional and depends on personal preference. Pitting allows the bourbon flavors to penetrate the fruitfully, but leaving the pits can impart a slight almond-like note.

What steps are involved in drying the cherries?

  • After washing the cherries: Once you have washed the cherries using a colander or strainer, it’s important to dry them thoroughly before proceeding with the soaking process. Excess moisture can dilute the bourbon and affect the overall flavor.
  • Place the cherries on a clean towel: Spread the washed cherries in a single layer on a clean towel. Make sure they are not piled on top of each other to allow air circulation and facilitate faster drying.
  • Gently pat dry: Use another clean towel or paper towel to gently dry the cherries. Be careful not to squeeze or crush the cherries, as they can be delicate.
  • Allow the cherries to air dry: Leave them on the towel and let them air dry for a sufficient amount of time. The drying time may vary depending on factors such as the size of the cherries and ambient humidity. It’s best to wait until the cherries feel dry to the touch.
  • Optional: Speed up the drying process (if needed): If you prefer to expedite the drying process, you can use a fan set on low speed or a gentle breeze to help evaporate any remaining moisture. Just ensure that the cherries are not exposed to direct heat or strong airflow, as this can damage their texture.

Soaking the Cherries in Bourbon

What factors should be considered when choosing a soaking container?

  • Non-reactive Material: Select a container made of non-reactive materials such as glass or food-grade plastic. This ensures that the flavors of the cherries and bourbon are not affected by any chemical reactions.
  • Size and Shape: Choose a large container to accommodate the cherries without overcrowding comfortably. The cherries should have enough space to be fully submerged in the bourbon. Additionally, consider the shape of the container, ensuring it allows for easy pouring and removal of the cherries.
  • Lid or Airtight Seal: Look for a container with a tight-fitting lid or an airtight seal. This helps maintain freshness and prevents any external odors from entering the container and affecting the flavor of the cherries.

How do you place the cherries in the container?

  • Layer the Cherries: Place the cherries in the container in an even layer. Avoid overcrowding the container, as this can hinder the cherries from fully absorbing the bourbon flavors.
  • Submerge the Cherries: Ensure all cherries are fully submerged in the bourbon. This allows flavor distribution and prevents cherries from drying out or oxidizing.

What is the process for pouring the bourbon over the cherries?

  • Measure the Bourbon: Determine the amount of bourbon mixture needed based on the number of cherries and personal preference. You want enough bourbon to cover the cherries completely and allow room for expansion.
  • Pour the Bourbon: Slowly pour the bourbon over the cherries, ensuring they are fully immersed in the liquid. Start with a small amount and gradually add more if needed to avoid overflow.

Are there any optional flavorings that can be added?

  • Spices: Add spices like cinnamon sticks, cloves, or star anise to infuse flavors into the bourbon-soaked cherries. These spices can add warmth and complexity to the final product.
  • Herbs: Fresh herbs such as mint, thyme, or rosemary can be added to give the cherries a unique herbal note. Experiment with different herbs to find combinations that complement the flavors of the cherries and bourbon.
  • Citrus Zest: Adding citrus zest, such as orange or lemon zest, can bring the cherries a bright and refreshing element. The citrus oils will infuse the bourbon and cherries with their aromatic essence.

Infusing Flavors and Aging

How long should the cherries be allowed to absorb flavors?

  • Soaking Duration: The cherries should be allowed to soak in the bourbon for at least a few days to absorb flavors. However, for a more pronounced and well-infused taste, it’s recommended to let them soak longer. This can range from several weeks to a few months. The longer the soaking duration, the more intense the flavors will be.
  • Taste Testing: Periodically taste-test the cherries during the soaking process to gauge their flavor development. This will help you determine the desired level of flavor intensity and decide when the cherries have reached the desired taste.

What factors can affect the intensity of the infused flavors?

  • Cherry Variety: In cherry season, different varieties can be harvested, and they have varying levels of sweetness and tartness. Sweeter cherries absorb flavors more readily, resulting in a more pronounced flavor profile.
  • Bourbon Selection: The choice of bourbon plays a significant role in the intensity of the infused flavors. Bourbons with bolder and more robust flavor profiles will impart stronger flavors to the cherries.
  • Soaking Time: The duration of soaking directly affects the intensity of the infused flavors. The longer the cherries remain in the bourbon, the more time they have to absorb and develop the flavors.
  • Optional Flavorings: If you have added optional flavorings such as spices, herbs, or citrus zest, their quantity and duration of exposure will impact the overall flavor intensity.

What are the considerations for temperature and storage during the aging process?

  • Temperature: The temperature at which the cherries are aged can influence flavor development. Generally, cherries should be stored in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight and extreme temperature fluctuations. This helps maintain the integrity of the flavors and prevents any unwanted changes.
  • Storage Container: Ensure the container is airtight and made of non-reactive materials to preserve the flavors and prevent oxidation. Glass jars with tight-fitting lids commonly store bourbon-soaked cherries.
  • Aging Duration: After the initial soaking period, the cherries continue to age and develop flavors as they sit in the bourbon. It’s recommended to age the cherries for at least a few weeks before consuming them. However, some enthusiasts prefer longer aging periods, up to several months, for a more complex flavor profile.

Using Bourbon Soaked Cherries

Can bourbon soaked cherries be enjoyed on their own?

Yes, bourbon soaked cherries can certainly be enjoyed on their own as a delicious and flavorful treat. They make for a delightful snack or dessert, offering a combination of sweet, tart, and boozy flavors.

The cherries absorb the bourbon, resulting in a unique and indulgent experience. Simply take a cherry from the jar and savor its infused flavors.

How can bourbon soaked cherries be incorporated into cocktails?

  • Classic Cocktails: Use boozy bourbon cherries as a garnish in classic cocktails like Old Fashioned or Manhattan. The cherries provide a deliciously boozy bite and complement the cocktail’s flavors. [2]
  • Whiskey Sour Variations: Add bourbon frozen cherries as a garnish to whiskey sour variations, such as a Cherry Bourbon Sour. The cherries infuse the drink with their bourbon flavors, which is a delightful garnish.
  • Muddled Cocktails: Muddle a bourbon-soaked cherry along with other ingredients, such as the bourbon syrup, to add depth and complexity to muddled cocktails like the Whiskey Smash or Mint Julep.
  • Signature Cocktails: Get creative and invent your own signature cocktail using bourbon-soaked cherries. Experiment with different spirits, mixers, and flavors to craft a unique and personalized drink.

What are some creative ways to use bourbon-soaked cherries in desserts or dishes?

  • Dessert Toppings: Use bourbon-soaked cherries as a topping for vanilla ice cream, yogurt, or cheesecake. The sweet, boozy cherries add a burst of flavor and a touch of elegance to your desserts.
  • Baked Goods: Incorporate bourbon-soaked cherries into baked goods like cakes, muffins, or bread pudding. Chop the cherries and fold them into the batter for an added burst of flavor and moistness.
  • Sauces and Compotes: Create a flavorful sauce or compote by simmering bourbon-soaked cherries with sugar and spices in a medium saucepan on medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves. This can be used as a topping for pancakes and waffles or as a filling for pies and tarts.
  • Savory Dishes: Explore the savory side using bourbon-soaked cherries in glazes for roasted meats like pork or duck. The cherries’ sweetness and boozy notes can beautifully balance the savory flavors.
  • Salad Enhancements: Toss bourbon-soaked cherries into salads to elevate their taste. They pair well with greens, nuts, cheese, and vinaigrettes, adding a touch of sweetness and complexity to the dish.

Storing and Preserving Bourbon Soaked Cherries

What types of containers are suitable for storing bourbon-soaked cherries?

  • Glass Jars: Glass jars with airtight lids are excellent for storing bourbon-soaked cherries. Mason jars or other food-grade glass containers work well as they prevent air and moisture from entering, preserving the flavors and quality of the cherries.
  • Sealable Containers: Food-grade plastic containers with tight-fitting lids can also store the cherries. Ensure that the containers are made of non-reactive materials to maintain the flavors and integrity of the cherries.

How long can bourbon-soaked cherries be stored?

Bourbon-soaked cherries can be stored for an extended period, allowing the flavors to further develop and mature over time. On average, when stored properly in a cool and dark place, bourbon-soaked cherries can be enjoyed for up to 6 months to 1 year.

However, it’s important to note that the texture and quality of the cherries may change slightly over time. The cherries may soften, and the flavors may continue to evolve. Regular taste tests can help determine if the cherries have reached their desired flavor profile.

Are there any techniques to extend the shelf life of bourbon-soaked cherries?

  • Proper Storage: Store bourbon soaked cherries in a cool and dark place, away from direct sunlight and heat sources. The cherries should be kept in a consistently cool environment to slow down any potential spoilage.
  • Refrigeration: If you want to extend the shelf life of your bourbon soaked cherries, refrigeration is an option. Transfer the jar or container to the refrigerator to help preserve the cherries for a longer period. Refrigeration can help slow down any potential fermentation or spoilage.
  • Maintain Cleanliness: When serving or using the cherries, ensure that utensils, hands, and any other contact with the cherries are clean. This helps minimize the introduction of bacteria or contaminants that can impact the shelf life of the cherries.
  • Straining the Liquid: If you notice any signs of spoilage, such as off odors or mold growth, it’s important to discard the cherries and the liquid. Strain the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any remaining solids and prevent contamination.


How long do alcohol-soaked cherries last?

Alcohol-soaked cherries, such as bourbon-soaked cherries, can have a decent shelf life if stored properly. On average, when stored in a cool and dark place, alcohol-soaked cherries can last for approximately 6 months to 1 year.


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