I really wanted to be Shirley Temple when I was younger. Maybe because we both had ringlets or because my mother strapped me into taps shoes the minute I could walk, but I always felt we were kindred spirits. My sisters and I would put on shows for our parents and their guests during dinner parties and I was the go-to girl for the Shirley Temple roles. Not that I ever objected. I would channel my best Shirley smile, don my sequined dance skirt, and eagerly attempt my best rendition of On The Good Ship Lollipop. Seeing as I was a fan of all things ST, I was naturally obsessed with her namesake drink and would ask for it every chance I got — with extra cherries, thank you very much.
But, when I got older, I came to realize how unnatural those day-glo Maraschino cherries and commercial grenadine are. So a few summers back, while deciding what to do with a particularly large bunch of cherries from the farmer’s market, I decided to make my own Maraschino cherries. It has not become a summer tradition to preserve cherries in a Maraschino-inspired recipe made with a rum-spiked and cardamom-spiced syrup.
This year I changed the recipe a bit, inspired by the the hard-to-find but fabulous grains of paradise my friend, chef Belinda, sent my way and the Tahitian vanilla another friend hand-delivered from the South Pacific. The combination of vanilla and cardamom lend familiar flavor but there’s a touch of intrigue thanks to the exotic spice of the grains of paradise. So here’s my latest recipe, lovingly coined Drunken Cherries in my house. They’re tasty right from the jar and a spoonful of the liquid makes a Bulleit Manhattan, but the kid in me likes them on top of a sundae. Granted it’s a more grown-up sundae with mocha ice cream, toasted hazelnuts, shaved bittersweet chocolate, and a spoonful of the Drunken Cherries, but I’m sure the adult Shirley would have approved.