Cherry Sidecar


There are three types of people in this world: those that like cherries, those that like cherry-flavored, and those that like neither (or both, which makes this category 4 I suppose).  I’m wedged into the latter but have slowly learned to appreciate the seasonal gift of fresh cherries.

Please don’t get me wrong. There are no agendas, no personal allergic antedotes, nothing of the sort. Growing up fresh cherries weren’t a part of my family menu. To us, cherries were the gloopy, glossy globes that didn’t need a cherry pitter but a can opener. Something tells me that’s not quite the way Mother Nature intended them to be enjoyed but purely an act out of mankind’s thifty desire to preserve their short season.

It’s only been the past few years that I’ve learned to have my way with fresh cherries in the kitchen and that has resulted in a slight cherry crush. I don’t want to eat cherry pie or clafoutis unless you can convince me you made it yourself and please for the love of god keep any fauxcherryanything far away from me. That includes Luden’s.

Still, I can’t help but get a teensy bit excited when I see cherries.

Last week the man and I decided to go to a nice quiet dinner to celebrate. Adam had never been to Hatfield’s and I couldn’t think of a more perfect place for a nice, not-so-flashy dinner.  Considering we were coming from the Bazaar where we met up with friends from Miami for a cocktail and you can see why this is all hella juxtapositiony n stuff.

May I interject something here? Please go to Hatfield’s. Just go. Quinn and Karen Hatfield have created one of the sweetest experiences you could have and there’s a reason why this place is a favorite in Los Angeles. Trust me.

Back to cherries. Hatfield’s had a Cherry Sidecar on the menu and since all their other cocktails are fantastic I knew this would be as well. One became two, two became three, Adam told me to use my inside voice, the food was delicious, I said I didn’t want dessert but it came with my meal, I ate it and part of his, and that is this story! Fun, isn’t it? Ok, not really. But I did manage to ask how the drink was made and both our server and Karen were very forthcoming.

I tried recreating the drink at home with pretty good results. Of course it wasn’t Hatfield’s but pretty damn close. For my drink I infused about a pound of pitted and split cherries into brandy and put that in the fridge for 5 days. If you follow me on Twitter you know that I was sneaking little sips daily, shhhh!  When it finally have enough cherry-ness to it I made a simple cherry reduction: 1 pound of pitted cherries, 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar. I let it simmer for about 20 minutes and then cooled it. Once cooled I put it in a blender and strained the liquid and discarded the solids, returning my cherry syrup back to the fridge.

I followed the basic sidecar proportions and mixed 1 1/2 oz of brandy, 1/2 oz of cherry puree and 1/2 oz of freshly squeezed lime juice. I can’t figure out what I love more about this cocktail: the fact that it mixes seasonal fruit with booze or the fact that it is one of the most beautiful colors when mixed.

And I didn’t even need a can opener!


  1. says

    I can think of nothing I would like more at 8 AM on a Monday morning than a drink.

    I’m in the real cherry camp of things. I was never one of the kids fighting over the cherry Jolly Ranchers (taste like cough syrup, you see), and I much prefer the strawberry Starburst. That said, the real fruit? Bring ’em on. Once while pregnant, I spotted a giant bag at the store “3.99!” Unfortunately, I missed the whole per pound detail. Three pounds and $12 later…

  2. says

    Hey Matt!

    I’m with you on the cherries available to me during my youth. I think red dye #4 or #5 was the big ingredient on the cherry jar. To this day fresh cherries, the way they are supposed to be eaten, are just too tart for me to truly enjoy.

    Too bad I don’t drink alcohol, this drink looks amazing. Maybe I can figure out a way to return the cherry to this drink (read: virgin) and enjoy it with the rest of you!

    As always, your posts are entertaining and leave me smiling.



  3. allison says

    Matt – I’m in the same boat – never tasted a real cherry growing up and hated faux-cherry-anything. That said, I am mildly obsessed with fresh cherries whenever they come in season now that I am semi-grown up.

    But what I really wanted to say is, after many months of consistent reading but never commenting, I was forced to finally comment as your pictures on this post are absolutely stunning. So simple, but breathtaking. It’s not hard to convince me to have a cocktail, but these picturse are surefire motivation to leave work as early as possible today to spend good money on cherries and brandy! Thank you!

  4. says

    I am a fan of the cherry, ripe and fresh off the tree. Lately I’ve been getting every red fruit I can find drunk on pomegranate liqueur and brown sugar.
    2 cups pitted and halved cherries
    1/2 cup liqueur
    1/8 cup brown sugar
    Let them set for 24 hours and then put them on granola, oatmeal, ice cream, cake, or sweet biscuits.

  5. says

    matt! great photos..seriously amazing. And I totally agree with you on Hatfield’s, it’s one of the best restaurant experiences in LA. I’m looking forward to their new location in the former Red Pearl Kitchen space. Melrose/Highland is looking to be a culinary mecca.

  6. says

    Mmmm… Gorgeous Matt! Love the red on red shot! So sexy!!!

    This drinks sounds marvelous. I could use one right now – I am so sore from horseback riding combined with hours on the motorcycle over the weekend!


    ~ Paula

  7. kphipps says

    These pics are sooo beautiful! I have some fresh cherries that I bought in a fit of reckless, cherry-lovin’ abandon right before I left for my trip. In spite of my valiant effort, I couldn’t finish them all in time, so I froze them. (as an aside, they are YUMMY right out of the freezer, or floating as little frozen cherry pop ice cubes in drinks!) I’m making a clafoutis at some point this week, but was wondering if there was something special I could do with the rest. And HELLO???!!! You GO with your cherry sidecar. And, a belated HAPPY ANNIVERSAIRE to you and Adam.
    Much love,

  8. kristina says

    well in australia they have something called a cherry ripe and it’s artificial stuff i’m sure but it is good. like a mounds with cherry in it. sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t, then you eat cherry ripe.

    friends from miami, bazaar, you’re just the BMILBC.

    now if i can get you to come to sunday service at the macadamia jubilation congregation, we’ll be doing ALL RIGHT!

  9. says

    I’m with you on artificial cherry flavor and I detest cherry pie. However, fresh sweet cherries are a thing of beauty — you have to put them in a big bowl of ice water in the fridge for a couple hours and eat them cold straight out of the bowl. The second best thing to do with cherries was (I thought) homemade clafoutis (really) but this may trump them.

    I also have to put in a good word for wickedly expensive but divine amarena cherries. Oh those things are good.

  10. says

    I’ve been having similar fun with cherries picked last week near Palmdale. 10 lbs. of cherries, pitted over 2 evenings in front of the tv. About 6 lbs marinating in the frig right now in brandy, vodka and sugar. The rest in the freezer for unknown purposes. Your cocktail looks amazing!

  11. says

    A friend of mine grew up in Russia during the Cold War and his mother forced him and his siblings to eat canned cherries in the wintertime because there was no fresh fruit and scurvy was a threat. Today he can hardly look at a cherry without gagging. But what a shame! They’re so delicious and such a treasure in June and July. Whether you like cherries or not, I say be thankful that you have plenty of choices when it comes to vitamin C. It’s an abundant land we live in.

  12. says

    I love cherries. I grew up in Michigan. They’re magic there. So much sweeter than you can imagine. And I love Hatfields! Can I just agree with you that yes, go to Hatfields!

  13. says

    I’m deeply confused (which you know is not new for me) and in a pedantic mood. After the prep, in the final recipe I am assuming the brandy you are referring to is the infused brandy, rather than some fresh brandy, and the cherries are fresh cherries rather than the leftover macerated cherries from the infusion … correct? And the syrup is actually the puree, which in fact is not a puree since you removed the solids …

    Oh, its 100 degrees in Dallas and I don’t want any anymore!

  14. Dawn in CA says

    Mmm… Hennessy sidecars used to be one of my favorite cocktails. Haven’t had one in ages, but with this recipe? I think it’s time. Wondering how it would work out with cognac in place of brandy… we’ll see! My favorite line from this post: “Adam told me to use my inside voice.” Hilarious – and something my husband would say to me.

  15. says

    I just discovered your blog via Twitter and I’m so glad I did – beautiful and well-written and I will definitely be back! And now my 2 cents re: cherres: I am in the first camp – only like cherries raw, straight up, preferably right out of the fridge (though this cocktail is pretty much irresistable!). I recently discovered they’re a good road-trip food too (as long as you have a bag for pits at the ready): last weekend we picked some up from the farmer’s market and headed straight to the beach, eating cherries all the way – fantastic morning!

  16. ashley says

    Matt, cherries are in season, and I want to try this! I have similar questions to Cary’s above. So, are you infusing the 1 lb. of cherries in a whole bottle of brandy? Then, do you make the drink with the infused brandy and some new, fresh cherries? Thanks. My 1 lb. is in the fridge, but it is going to be tough to wait for 5 days.

  17. says

    Matt, thank you for this recipe which has spawned a quick and dirty version. Cook down the cherries in water and sugar for 20 minutes; cool. Mix equal amounts of cherry syrup and lime juice with three times as much brandy in cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well until VERY cold. Strain into martini glass with sugared rim. Maybe not as fab as the longer version but I’m digging it! Thanks to my buddy @thepeche for this inspiration. Next year…going the whole nine yards though, promise!

  18. says

    I’m back! I’ve been on a liqueur making kick for the past year and thought I would make cherry liqueur this season. SIX months to wait??!! Then I remembered your cherry sidecar and in comparison think I’m ready to wait 5 days. Having a Girls Nite in a week and a half from now in my backyard; there will be homemade limoncello coolers and this cherry sidecar. They’ll probably never leave!

  19. Vic says

    I’ve had my eye on this recipe for a few years. Now that cherry season is here, I think it’s time. Do you recommend a particular type of brandy?


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