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A Sin and A Secret: Just the Sin Tonight! Cherry Bounce

Making cherry bounce

Normally we provide a story along with our colonial-inspired drink recipe, but for today’s #ASinAndASecret, we’re going to dive into the history of cherry bounce.

Last July, the staff of Historic London Town and Gardens began making cherry bounce in our reconstructed colonial village. Cherry Bounce is a cordial with cherries (of course!), brandy, sugar, and spices. It was a popular drink during the colonial period.

Look at all that sugar over those cherries!

Why is the drink called a “Bounce”? Foodways historian Joyce White writes, “The drink known as bounce usually refers to a mixture of brandy and sweetened cherry juice. The earliest reference for Cherry Bounce dates to 1693 and is found in W. Robertson Phraseologia Generalis (new ed.) 369, where it is referred to as a ‘mingled [mixed] drink’ called ‘cherrybouncer.’” White believes the word “bounce” is a “colloquialism for cherry brandy.” She theorizes that it was renamed bounce as it might have been “sold without the required duty.”

Stirring it up!

Mount Vernon writes that cherry bounce was “among the few recipes known to have been used by the Washington family…” They go on to say, “It seems to have been such a favorite of General Washington’s that he packed a ‘Canteen’ of it, along with Madeira and port, for a trip west across the Allegheny Mountains in September 1784.”

In fact, Martha Washington had her own recipe “to make excellent cherry bounce.” Her recipe is as follows:

“Extract the juice of 20 pounds well ripen’d Morrella cherrys. Add to this 10 quarts of old French brandy and sweeten it with White sugar to your taste. To 5 gallons of this mixture add one ounce of spice such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmegs of each an Equal quantity slightly bruis’d and a pint and half of cherry kirnels that have been gently broken in a mortar. After the liquor has fermented let it stand close-topped for a month or six weeks then bottle it, remembering to put a lump of Loaf Sugar into each bottle.” - Martha Washington

The recipe is from Martha Washington’s papers, date unknown. Original courtesy of Stewart P., Cameron B., and Brian H. McCaw.

Looking good!

Our version is similar to hers, although slightly more stripped down. We mixed (and a bit mashed) the cherries with sugar and then enough brandy to cover them. We kept the mixture in a cool, dark place for the past two months, although you can do it longer or shorter, and stirred it on occasion.

Our Cherry Bounce Recipe:

  • 2 pounds cherry

  • Sugar

  • Cheap brandy

  • Large sealable jar

  1. Take 2 pounds of cherries, halve them, and take out the pits.

  2. Mash the cherries with a wooden spoon and sprinkle a liberal quantity of sugar over them to aid with the maceration of the cherries.

  3. Put the cherries and sugar mixture in a large sealable jar.

  4. Pour cheap brandy over them, use enough to cover all the cherries.

  5. Make sure cherries pressed against the side of the jar aren’t trapping any air in the mixture – stir it well before lightly tapping the jar on any surface to get rid of any remaining air.

  6. Store it in a cool dark place and give it a stir every few days.

  7. Wait at least 2 weeks (more is preferable – we waited 4) and decant the cherries.

  8. Pour the mixture through a strainer, ensuring that you capture all the liquid in a bowl.

  9. Store the brandied cherries in the freezer and enjoy on ice cream or in drinks.

  10. Pour the bowl of Cherry Bounce (the brandy cherry cordial) into a bottle and enjoy!

In mid-September, we decanted the bounce. The cherries definitely have a kick! If you make cherry bounce, it’s recommended to enjoy small glasses of it at room temperature. Anything leftover can be stored in the refrigerator.

Cherry Wine Recipe from Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery

Yum! Would you drink it? Try and tell us what you think! Email us at

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