Take cherries* and their pits, & put them in a pot to crush them, & let them ferment 24 hours. Usually three pounds of cherries produce a pint of juice. When you strain them, squeeze them to extract all the juice, & put as much of eau-de-vie (brandy*) as that of juice, pint for pint; add a quarter pound of sugar per pint; i.e., on a jug of twelve pints; three pounds sugar; & to that jug; you will add a piece of cinnamon and a handful of crushed cherry pits & stopper the jug, letting it infuse six weeks. After six weeks, strain, bottle and cork, and set back in a cool place for at least 4 months. This ratafia only gets better with age.
Make certain your cherries are ripe and mature, without being spoiled; otherwise all the spices, which one has habit to put at it, are not worth anything for ratafia.
Dictionnaire Portatif de Cuisine, d'Office, et de Distillation. Chez Vincent, Paris 1767, p. 143-144.
*If you use Royal Ann (Napoleon or Bigarreaux) cherries, use a white brandy (Marc, vodka). If you use a dark cherry (Bing or Black Tartarian) use dark brandy.