The recipe provided below is based on the use of sweet cherry but this specification should really be referred to as a guide and adjusted for your own needs. The addition of other spices or citrus peels can offer more depth, and the spirit or liqueur you also choose to macerate your cherries in will have a huge impact;

Real Cocktail Cherries;

120g Soft demerara sugar / 120ml Water
1 Cinnamon stick / Pinch nutmeg / Half scored vanilla pod
450g Cherries [bing, pitted] / 240ml aged rum or brandy/cognac

Wash and pit cherries. In a saucepan, combine all ingredients except the cherries and spirit then bring to the boil.
Reduce heat to a light simmer immediately, add cherries and simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat, add spirit and cool immediately. Sieve cherries from liquid then filter through coffee filter paper. When all sediment has been extracted, combine again with cooled cherries then transfer to a clean glass jar and refrigerate.

Tips;
- Use fresh products in every possible instance.
- Crush/grind all spices using a pestle & mortar prior to maceration.
- Cool cherries/liquid in an ice bath.
- Before straining ensure you moisten the filter paper. I recommend moistening with the liquid you are about to filter.
- If recycling jars allow to soak in soapy water and then freshly boiled water to avoid contamination.
- Store in kilner jars in every possible instance.
- After cherries are finished you can use the liquid as a homemade cherry liqueur.
- With regards a shelf-life I've had cherries keep for months so long as they're kept in the liqueur.