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Cherry Bounce: A True Story About GW and Fruit

The cherry is a fruit well-associated with the nation’s first president, even if the cherry tree story, in which a young George Washington chopped down a cherry tree then couldn’t lie about it to his father, is fictitious.

Turns out there are at least some fact-based tales about Washington and the cherry, most involving Washington’s favorite cherry-based beverage: cherry bounce.

Washington is known to have taken the brandy-based cherry drink plus Madeira and port with him in September 1784 on an expedition across the Allegheny Mountains. The drink was a favorite of the Washingtons, and an original recipe for it that was written in unidentified handwriting was later found in a pocket-sized memo book that had belonged to Martha Washington.

In celebration of Mount Vernon’s upcoming exhibit Hoecakes & Hospitality: Cooking With Martha Washington, Mount Vernon made a test batch of the brandy-based drink. The exhibit, which opens February 18, will feature this plus many other Washington culinary favorites.

Instead of using Martha’s recipe, we made the beverage using an adaptation that will appear in the upcoming book Dining With the Washingtons, which will be released around November 1. This coffee table cookbook about the food served at the General’s table includes rich photography, essays and modern-day recipes for favorite Washington dishes. Get a sneak preview with the below recipe for cherry bounce.

Makes about 3 quarts

10 to 11 pounds fresh sour cherries, preferably Morello, or 3 jars (1 pound, 9 ounce) preserved Morello cherries

4 cups brandy

3 cups sugar, plus more as needed

2 cinnamon sticks, broken into pieces

2 to 3 cloves

1 (1/4 inch) piece fresh whole nutmeg

1) Pit the cherries, cut them in half, and put them in a large bowl. Using a potato masher, carefully mash the fruit to extract as much juice as possible. Strain the juice through a large fine-mesh strainer, pressing the fruit with a sturdy spoon. (You should have about 8 cups.) Reserve the mashed cherries in the freezer or refrigerator for later use. If using jarred cherries, drain the fruit and set the juice aside before halving and mashing the cherries. Add any pressed juice to the reserved jarred juice.

2) In a lidded 1-gallon glass jar, combine the juice with the brandy and sugar, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cover with the lid, and set aside in the refrigerator for 24 hours, occasionally stirring or carefully shaking the jar.

3) Bring 2 cups of the juice to a simmer over medium heat. Taste the sweetened juice and add more sugar, if desired. Stir the cinnamon sticks, cloves, and nutmeg. Then cover, and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, and set aside to cool to room temperature. Strain, and discard the spices.

4) Stir the spiced juice back into the 1-gallon glass jar with the reserved sweetened juice. Cover loosely with the lid and set aside for at least 2 weeks before serving, occasionally shaking the jar with care.

5) Serve at room temperature in small cordial or wine glasses. Store the remaining cherry bounce in the refrigerator.

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5 Responses to “Cherry Bounce: A True Story About GW and Fruit”

  1. Jan West Says:

    I am retiring and plan another marvelous trip tp Mount Vernon. It was so much fun. I am going to make this recipe for the holidays and give some away as gifts. I can’t wait. I loved her cake recipe…that was really awesome! Thanks for all the good fun through the years! Jan West, Alaska

  2. Teresa Neighbors Says:

    Keep this awesome information about my favorite First Family coming! If I could relive any time in history it would be with the Washingtons!

  3. Robin Friedman Says:

    They are my favorite First Family too! And I too wish I could have lived during their time! We just returned from the lovely Dining with the Washingtons symposium last weekend, where I had a chance to try both hoecakes and cherry bounce. Didn’t love the hoecakes - they were much harder than I expected - but I wish I’d had more cherry bounce - it was yummy!

  4. Harry Potter Says:

    Iv’e never been to Mount Vernon, but from what I’ve been reading, it sounds like a spectacular place! Plus this recipie for Cherry Bounce sounds absolutley amazing, even without the brandy. I’m so glad that people create web-sites like this so we can all express our love of the great George Washington!

  5. The Friday Tipple: Post-Convention Bounce « Good Booze Says:

    […] and sugar — the first First Lady, Martha Washington, is somewhat revered for her own recipe for a Cherry Bounce. However, as it takes several weeks to make a proper bounce, we looked for a quick alternative and […]

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Portraits in Schools

Kids holding George Washington Portrait

Mount Vernon recently invited K-12 schools nationwide to request framed portraits of George Washington to display in a respectful, prominent place.

The response was overwhelming: thousands of schools submitted letters! Along with the portrait, schools received curriculum materials to help explore our first president’s contributions.

Where has George Washington gone back to school? Click here to see!

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