George Washington’s Cherry Bounce

Cherry Bounce

Cherry Bounce was a popular treat at the Washingtons’ table.

Dining With the Washingtons, Mount Vernon Ladies' Assn.


10 to 11 pounds fresh sour or tart cherries, pitted
4 cups brandy
3 cups sugar, plus more as needed
2 cinnamon sticks, broken into pieces
2 to 3 cloves
1 (1/4-inch) piece fresh whole nutmeg


Note: The recipe lists fresh cherries but you can also buy jars of preserved cherries, specifically 3 jars (1 pound, 9 ounce), preferably Morello cherries. Or if jarred cherries are not available, thawed pie cherries can be substituted.

  1. Mash cherries to extract as much juice as possible. Strain the juice through a large fine-mesh strainer, pressing the fruit with a sturdy spoon. You should have about 8 cups. (Keep the mashed cherries; don’t throw them out!).  Note: If using jarried cherries, drain the fruit and set the juice aside before halving and mashing the cherries. Add any pressed juice to the reserved jarred juice.
  2. In a 1-gallon glass jar (or glass container) with a lid, combine the juice with the brandy and sugar.  Stir to dissolve the sugar. Cover and set aside in the refrigerator for 24 hours, occasionally stirring or carefully shaking the jar.
  3. Bring 2 cups of the juice to a simmer over medium heat. Taste the sweetened juice and add more sugar, if desired. Stir in the cinnamon sticks, cloves, and nutmeg. 
  4. Cover and simmer for five minutes; remove from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature. Strain, and discard the spices.
  5. Stir the spiced juice back into the 1-gallon glass jar with the reserved sweetened juice.
  6. Cover loosely with the lid, and set aside for at least 2 weeks before serving, occasionally shaking the jar with care.
  7. Serve at room temperature in small cordial or wine glasses. Store extra in fridge

Reader Comments

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Maybe Even Easier?

If I'm not to use the mashed cherries in the beverage, could I purchase 8 cups organic sour cherry juice and proceed to step 2? I probably would add some dried cherries (like G. Washington - "a pint and [a] half of cherry kirnels [sic] that have been gently broken in a mortar") for additional flavor and authenticity? What do you think?

easy cherry bounce

The Editors's picture

You need real fruit to ferment.  But I think you could simply this recipe by simply putting 2 cups of Door County cherries in a jar with ½ cup of sugar and 1 cup liquor.  Store for a month or so. Shake occasionally.