After reading Reid's recent thread about the manhattan and how "brandied" cherries are much, much better in them than maraschino cherries, I looked at a few places but couldn't find any brandied cherries.
There are a lot of recipes online, and I think I'll try a time-consuming one later, but I found a quick one I could use relatively immediately and decided I'd give it a go.
1 1/2 lb dark sweet cherries (pitted)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
Juice from one lemon
1 small cinnamon stick
1/4 cup bourbon
combine the water, sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon in a small saucepan on the stove and bring to a boil. add the cherries, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 5 minutes stirring regularly.
I also added a dash of homemade vanilla extract when it was just about cooked. like 1/8 of a teaspoon or something.
Remove from heat, remove the cinnamon, and add the bourbon (I used a combination of maker's mark and maker's 46, with just a dash of GTS). Once cool, throw it in a mason jar or glass container.
The original recipe called for brandy of course, but what use do I have for that stuff?
The home made vanilla extract is half of a vanilla bean, split, and then added to a 50ml mini that I filled with GTS. It's been sitting up in the cupboard for 3 months or so and it smells incredible!
Anyway, they're pretty decent in an old fashioned, I have yet to try them in a manhattan. I'll also say I tried one in coca-cola (with just a tiny spoonful of the juice) and it made an AWESOME cherry coke.