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Door County Cherry Bounce: Wisconsin Tradition

August 11, 2011

Sorry for the long-ish hiatus over the past few weeks.  My family recently lost a wonderful woman, my great-aunt.  I was named Elizabeth after her, but, like 99% of Elizabeths, we both have random nicknames – I’m Libby, and she was Betty, although far more people knew her by her childhood nickname: Pooch.  I headed north to Luxemburg, WI to spend the week with family, celebrating Poochie’s life and sharing lots of great stories.

Luxemburg is just south of Door County – for non-Wisconsinites, here’s a “hand”-y guide to where that is: look at your right hand, palm up.  This is basically Wisconsin.  The space between your index finger and thumb is Green Bay (Go Pack Go!) and your thumb is Door County.  Door County is famous for, among other things, tart cherries.  When the cherries are ready to pick, they’re pretty much the only thing anyone can talk about in this region of the state.  My aunt Pooch lived most of her life with a cherry orchard in her backyard, and she was famous for decorating her kitchen completely in a cherry motif, baking phenomenal cherry pies, and making a mean annual batch of cherry bounce.

Cherry bounce is a pretty simple thing – cherries, whisky, and sugar.  Add it all together when the cherries are at their peak, then seal it up and do your best not to touch it until Thanksgiving.  The result is a sweet (and pretty lethal) cherry-infused whisky that is perfect to drink on the rocks, or, in true Sconnie style, in an Old Fashioned

Cherry Bounce

  • 1 quart whole unpitted tart cherries
    • Door County cherries are Montmorency variety – just make sure what you use is tart, not your standard grocery store Bing cherries
  • 1 liter of whiskey
    • I definitely welcome experimentation, but the elders of my family all agree that the whisky should be Canadian, and it should be very cheap.  Ideally, the less flavor the whiskey has, the better the cherries will infuse.  Also though, we make a lot of this stuff, so it makes sense to get a good deal.  This year we used Barton’s Canadian, since there was a mail-in rebate, and I think we made about 10 liters total.  We’re damn classy.
  • 3/4 to 1 cup of sugar, depending on your tastes
Pour your whisky out of the bottle into a temporary container of any kind.  Rinse the cherries.  Using a toothpick, poke one or two holes in each cherry, dropping them into your empty whisky bottle as you go.  Using a funnel, add your sugar, and then pour whisky back into the bottle, so that the bottle is full again.  Seal the bottle up again and give it a few gentle turns upside-down, to mix everything up.  Make some pretty labels if you like.  You will have some leftover whisky, so if you have more cherries, make yourself another batch.  I made 3 liters of bounce with 2 liters of whisky and 3 quarts of cherries – I just used an empty juice bottle for the 3rd batch.

My family tradition is to open this together at Thanksgiving or Christmas, but this year I may host a holiday bounce party to share my batch with friends.  When your bounce is gone, you can do one more batch with the same cherries – it won’t be as intensely-flavored, but will still be good, and means you can have another round of bounce in February or March (when most snow-sick Sconnies especially need to hit the booze).

I feel like this is also the perfect post to add an awesome picture of my parents’ liquor cabinet to, to illustrate our dedication to some Wisconsin traditions:

If you’re in the Madison area and jonesing for some bounce come November, fear not if you didn’t make your own.  The much-loved Capitol Square restaurant The Old Fashioned makes their own bounce every year – but it goes fast!  They also make other bounce-like infusions, available at various times of the year – this past week I had a delicious blackberry brandy there.  Wherever you get your bounce, please raise your glass to my aunt Pooch and the many other Wisconsin cherry-lovers who have kept this tradition going for so long!

What are some of your favorite liquor-related Wisconsin traditions?
One Comment leave one →
  1. Richard Allard permalink
    March 9, 2017 6:43 pm

    My cousins also drink Cherry Bounce and they live in Luxemberg and Dykesville. My cousins in Luxemberg last name is Theys and my cousins in Dykesville are Lampeurs. I am an Allard and my grand parents had a dairy farm in Dykesville!

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