Since 1) it's cherry season and 2) y'all seem to really love it when I post about cocktails, I thought I'd tell you about a little something-something I cooked up last cherry season: Brandied Cherries. They are a bit of work to make, but only if you pit them first (which I do like to do, but I'm funny that way - you don't need to bother if you don't mind having to deal with the pit when you eat them). Otherwise, you just need to make a syrup, add brandy, pour it all over the cherries and then stick them in the back of the fridge *or* hot-water process them and hide them in a cupboard. In any case, let them sit around for a few weeks or months before you use them - the flavors meld and mellow and become absolutely heavenly.
When you pop them open you can simply use them to top ice cream. Or, and here is where things get really fun, you can use a bit of the spiced brandy in a Manhattan and plop one (or two or three) of the cherries in the glass. I can personally attest to the degree to which one of these will really brighten and gray winter night. Think ahead, little squirrels, and store your cherries for the dark days ahead.
Recipe Wizard: localfoods.about.com
Radio Girl: eatthatradio.wordpress.com
*Photos courtesy of Molly Watson.