Drunken cherries - make your own cherry brandy

Preserving cherries for later, for generations to come.

"My top way of eating cherries is a bowl of cherries. If good, they need no adornment, other than perhaps a glass of pink champagne."
Fergus Henderson.

Before the second world war there were about 40 000 acres of cherry orchards in Britain. These were mainly in Kent, Worcestershire and Herefordshire.
The past 50 years however 90 % of these cherry orchards have disappeared.
The labour was very intensive as the trees were very high, too high to cover the crop from the birds. I were mostly women who harvested the cherries on high ladders with baskets tied to their waists.  

To tackle this problem nowadays and to revive cherry growing, dwarf plants are planted to replace the towering trees. The dwarf trees are covered with netting so the birds can't steal the crop and the orchard has a maximum yield.


The people from Food Lovers Britain have started 'CherryAid', a campaign to point out to the supermarkets and consumers that the British cherry needs our attention and preservation. Since the campaign started most of Britain's biggest supermarkets like M&S and Tesco are selling British cherries and Waitrose has stated that imported cherries will be phased out completely for the five week the British cherry season.
So it's fair to say, British cherries are on their way of being saved for future generations.

Britain however is not the only country in danger of loosing their native fruit, in Belgium you can't even get Belgian cherries in the supermarket. You find them rarely at the market. A lot of cherry growers in Belgium leave their crop rot on the trees because it's too expensive to pick them for the price they will get for them. Such a shame that the most famous 'Schaerbeekse cherry' has been lost for ever, this was the variety used for the typical Belgian cherry beer. Instead of finding another Belgian cherry, most of the breweries choose to import the cherries from Poland. Only a small number of cherries used for the beer today are Belgian. 

Most of you will try and buy 'local' or British cherries, I'm sure.
I love how the cherry season transforms the roads of Kent with cherry signs and little stalls packed with punnets of cherries. The sellers sitting there, usually seeking shelter from wind and rain under a bright umbrella, reading a book.

Below some interesting links to explore:
Brogdale farm has an annual Cherry festival celebrating the British cherry and
Food Lovers Britain - 'CherryAid' a campaign to put British cherries back on the map.

Great British Food Revival Cherries and Walnuts
Rent a cherry tree

Cherries come in two types: sweet and sour. My mum and I used to make this cherry brandy and the recipe is handed down by my grandmother. For cherry brandy it's better to use the sour variety however you can use the sweet ones and slightly decrease the sugar you use. Or not, if you like it very sweet!

So what about you? What do you like to brew?

What do you need

cherries: 1kg
Eau de vie or Vodka: 1liter
sugar: 300 g
sterilised jars

• rinse the cherries well
• cut of the stalks leaving 1cm still on the cherry, that way the brandy will keep longer as 
the cherries stay nice and firm.
• layer the cherries with the sugar
• pour over the alcohol and close the jar
• put in a dark place at room temperature and shake every day for a week
• forget about the cherries until christmas or thanksgiving!

I have jars that date back to 1999, these cherries are very very strong!
Enjoy in a little glass or why not with a scoop of ice cream...

You might also like
Strawberry and Pimm's granita drink
Blaeberry pie

Please leave a comment, I love reading them!


  1. Tragic! Hopefully all cherry orchads will not disappear... Here, you can buy Swiss cherries in stores but they are sooooo expensive. As a matter of fact, I didn't buy any this year. :-(((

    Oh, love drunken cherries! They remind me of my Swiss grandparents. My grandmother canned tons of cherries and we always had some for dessert (with meringue and thick cream), no matter the season.



    1. I hope you'll be able to have some this season! x

  2. Oh lovely cherries Regula with Eau de Vie. My French Grandmaman made them like this with the sour cherries from the garden. In the winter a jar was opened and a cherry and some "juice" served in a liqueur glass along with a tiny cup of mokka.
    Sad about the Belgian cherries.

    1. Yes indeed, we also had them in those small liqueur glasses! :)

  3. I love the sound of this! I love cherries, how they stain your lips a sexy red, how you pull it off the stalk with your teeth and spit the pit out after, how sweet it is. Ah, and drunken cherries, even better. Also, loving the photos and graphic texts, as always.

  4. How delicious, one of my loveliest memories from childhood is moving into a new house and discovering a cherry tree in the garden absolutely laden with fruit. Imagine two young girls with cherry stained faces, we were in heaven!

    1. What a lovely discovery to make! I have a cherry tree, I have a only a handful of cherries each year!

  5. this is really interesting, and bravo to the English supermarkets for their effort to preserve the English cherries.
    I don't think we have such an issue in Italy, but it's so sad to see cherries from Chile or Spain when we could ave our own produce!
    Lovely way to preserve summer, I'd love a spoonful of your cherries with a fiordilatte ice cream!

    1. Indeed, I think it's so great that the Brits make an effort to preserve their heritage!

    2. Love that you opened this post with a quote from Fergus Henderson! I knew you & Juls would love him! ;)

  6. I only buy British cherries, so I have only a small window of opportunity to eat them in. But this is a fab way of preserving them and I don't know why I haven't done so before. I make all sorts of other fruit liqueurs, but have not thought of using cherries - bah!

    1. Oh you'll have to make it while you still can! British cherries are so so delicious!

  7. Informative post Regula. Good that British supermarkets have agreed to sell only British cherries during the season. I had no idea that the cherry used to make cherry flavoured Belgian beer is no longer grown in Belgium - what a shame!
    As always, beautiful photos Regula :-)

    1. Thanks Jacqueline, it's such a shame when varieties disappear due to cheap imports from other countries.

  8. Anonymous6/7/13

    I like this rcp, thank you ,
    it is just the one my mum was making in olden days with the different she let the jar for sometime in the sun

  9. Anonymous24/7/13

    lovely article,have just picked eight pounds of goergeous cherrys fron my secret roadside location they are out there now you just need to have a eye out,seek and you will find.

  10. Elizabeth D27/7/13

    I live just off 'Cherry Holt Road' in south Lincolnshire. Not quite as many cherry trees along it's mile length but still plenty. I've picked 8kg of gorgeous, juicy, ripe cherries in the last 2 evenings from just one tree. It's been a great conversation maker - total strangers have stopped to see what I'm doing and what I'm going to make with them. Made 4kgs of cherry jelly jam this morning and have just cooked down another 4kgs to add to 1.5l of vodka. Recipe says to leave in a cool, dark place for 4 weeks. 4 weeks!!! Actually I think we'll try some tonight ...

    1. Let me know how it tasted ;) I sometimes make a jar to keep and one to open :)

  11. Elizabeth D27/7/13

    Not quite as many ... as there used to be ...re
    . previous post

  12. Anonymous28/7/13

    Jeanette 27/7/13

    Ladies, I live in Somerset and some of the the parks have clusters of cherry trees also in quieter areas - there is one outside the school - just look up . My friends can't believe I pick so many -a friend and I picked 12lbs last week, and another 4lbs today -they are free.

  13. Anonymous1/8/13

    Thank you so much for this recipe. I have a large, fan trained Morello cherry tree in my garden. This year we have a huge harvest. Beautiful shining cherries. I can only make so much jam, lovely though it is, and any sour cherry recipe's are welcome. If I am successful with this we will be thinking of you again around Christmas time. Best wishes. "Cherry Pie" Sidcup Kent.

    1. If you are fortunate to have so many cherries, you will be able to make little cherry brandy jars for the whole family as chritmas presents!

  14. Anonymous5/8/13

    I have often made similar cherry, and other fruit, brandies, but I have always thought of it as "brandying fruits" and the flavored brandy as an after-thought or side-benefit. Perspective is so interesting. BTW, love the cat! I have a thing for black cats. Probably good I am allergic or I'd be a neighborhood sensation with black cats everywhere, lol. Christina

  15. Anonymous29/8/13

    I have a morrello cherry tree, this year i have had a bumper crop i have took pounds into work for the chefs to work their magic. But i also wanted to make some thing for me & friends. Instead of brandy i have used gin cannot wait for the time i can taste. mmmmm

  16. Anonymous7/12/13

    I am about to try your recipe. I live in Australia and so I am not too sure when you pick your cherry so I was wondering how long should I leave the cherries for? I just love cherry brandy and my mother and I love brandied cherries...win win if you ask me!

  17. Anonymous31/5/14

    I can't wait to try this. I live in Seattle. I'll be using local cherries and some from my garden.

  18. Hello from Betty Boops in the south of France, (near Béziers)
    I have four cherry trees and was looking to make a cherry brandy, found yours and this afternoon (4th june 2014) we shall make at least six jars. Hope they last long enough till xmas, its something we eat a lot of down here. Thanks again for your recipe. When tasted Ill let you know what they thought. Take care.

  19. Hi there from Betty in the South of France. I was looking for a recipe using cherries & brandy, but you use Vodka or eau-de-vie for fruits. Yours sound every so good, so this afternoon we shall be making at least 6 jars of cherries. We have 4 cherry trees in our garden and I just love to have them as you say, in a small glass after coffee. Will let you know how they go. Thanks again, Betty.

  20. Mmmm...this looks delicious!

  21. Anonymous18/7/14

    it's 2am, thunder and dramatic lightening outside, across the sea, and I've just made 2 large jars of cherry brandy. I chose your recipe because it had more brandy in it! something to look forward to now! thanks

  22. Is it normal for the cherries and juice to fizz when I open the canning jar?
    I used cherry kirsch as the alcohol and they have been in a cupboard for about a month

    1. Hi, that doesn't sound normal to me. I think the cherries might be producing yeast and they are starting to ferment. I think you maybe didn't use enough sugar or your alcohol wan't strong enough. Good luck!

  23. Love it!!!
    You 5 stars from me ;)

  24. Anonymous6/12/14

    giving it a go! also trying an apricot liqueur with some dried mixed fruit added to enhance the flavour.

  25. About to try this....it does look fabulous. I think a Brisbane Christmas definitely needs a shot of drunken cherries! Ciao, Robyn. P.S. have a squizz at my blog....Paris Rendez-Vous and Beyond....address is http://parisallons-y.blogspot.com


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