Monday, April 28, 2014

The buzz is all about sour cherries -- and it's one heck of a buzz!

A highlight of our weekend in Naples, Florida last month was the sour-cherry martini I drank at a Persian restaurant.
Doug's Armenian Sour Cherry Martini
I was about to order something prosaic when I spotted the description on the drink menu. Just reading the words “sour cherry” brought back memories of my father.

When I was young, he tried to introduce me to sour cherry preserves, a treat from his Old Country childhood, but I wouldn’t bite. Why would a kid growing up in the land of Snickers want sour fruit?

Years later, as an adult, I gave in and discovered the delightful tang of tart cherries in sugar-sweet syrup. Since then, I’ve thought of them as an occasional breakfast treat, the perfect counterpoint to strong coffee and salty Armenian cheese.

The martini was a bit sweet for my taste but still very good, and the best part was waiting at the bottom of the glass: three small, preserved cherries. Instant nostalgia! I made a mental note to renew my relationship with sour cherry preserves when we got back home, but we failed to spot any in several trips to our usual Middle Eastern grocery stores.
Noyan Sour Cherry Preserves

Was that a hint?

Robyn often recounts the stories of recipes that require serious trial-and-error work and even multiple preparations. This sometimes results in both of us having to taste, taste and taste again. It is a sacrifice that we make for you, dear readers.

But here was a challenge I had to face alone: How to make a proper sour-cherry martini? I had no choice but to try and sip, and then try and sip again.

And again.

Before I share the recipe, I must confess I’m no martini expert but I do know that some people take their martins very seriously. Not me. I don’t get fussy about my gin, mostly because I never cared much for gin.

So if you’re offended by a vodka martini, or by my use of red vermouth in this one, beware that I’m one of those unsophisticated drinkers who thinks anything in a martini glass is a martini. I encourage you to take my recipe as a suggestion and conduct your own experiment.

Just remember to save some cherry preserves for breakfast.

Armenian Sour Cherry Martini

3 oz. vodka (or gin)
1 oz. red vermouth
.5 oz.  sour cherry syrup
Three preserved sour cherries

Place a few ice cubes in a martini shaker and pour in the vodka and vermouth. Mix in a few teaspoons of the syrup from the preserves. Shake gently to blend. Spoon three of the preserved cherries into a martini glass, then strain the martini mixture over them. Drink while chilled. 


  1. Last year, on a lark, I made sour cherry preserves using some leftover sour cherries. At the last minute, I added a tablespoon of cognac (Armenian, naturally). OMG it was so good. It tastes a bit like maraschino cherries (the kind they used in old fashioned bars, not the artificial red ones). And it is great for adding to whiskey drinks like manhattans and old-fashioneds, though it would probably be a little too much for your vodka martini.

    I will have to try your recipe. I'm not sure how the red vermouth plays off the other ingredients, but I guess I will find out! :-)

    1. We'd love to hear how your experiment goes. Bottoms up!