This year, a combination of thriftiness and craftiness has led me to one humble goal: save money and give memorable gifts for Christmas. Luckily, I got a head start in my own front yard. Ten years ago, good friends gave my husband a cherry tree for his birthday; we planted it in front of our house in Brooklyn, and after a slow start, it has given us amazing cherry harvests every June. The tree bears more than we can eat, so we started experimenting with using the fruit to make a decidedly inauthentic grappa, which we then jar and give to friends for the holidays.
The idea, and the recipe (if you can call it that), come from my father, who was inspired by the after-dinner drink served at a favorite Italian restaurant. My sister wrote about his version here. It is a staple at all of our family gatherings.
To make, fill any size canning jar you would like 1/3 of the way with fruit, then sprinkle liberally with granulated sugar. Fill to the top with your favorite vodka (no need to go top shelf here) and screw shut. Store in a dark place and invert every month or so before opening.
Ideally, the grappa should sit 3-6 months before enjoying, so you could make a batch now and include a note to that effect when gifting. Cherries are not in season, but fresh, firm grapes or even raisins would also be delicious.