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In a large saucepan, combine sherry, 1 1/2 cups water, sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add cherries and boil for 1 minute.
Ladle cherries and liquid into pint (16-ounce) jars with lids, leaving 1/2 inch of room at the top of each jar. Gently stir to settle cherries and release any air bubbles; add more liquid if necessary. Allow to sit until cool, then close jars. (You may have leftover liquid.)
Refrigerate cocktail cherries for at least 2 days before serving. Store in the refrigerator up to 1 month.
Alternatively, use our canning method below for longer, unrefrigerated storage.
Have 4 pint (16-ounce) jars with 2-piece lids ready. Place the jars and lids in very hot (not boiling) water and prepare a water-bath canner. Cook syrup and cherries as directed above.
Using tongs, remove a jar, lid and screw band from hot water. Ladle cherries and liquid into the jar, leaving 1/2 inch of room at the top. Gently stir to settle cherries and release any air bubbles; add more liquid if necessary. Wipe the rim with a clean, damp kitchen towel. Place a lid on the jar, seal-side down, and secure gently in place with a screw band; do not overtighten the screw band. Repeat to fill the remaining jars. (You may have leftover liquid.)
Place the jars in the water-bath canner on a rack, making sure that the jars do not touch and that they are covered with water by at least an inch. Cover and bring to a boil. Boil 20 minutes. Turn off heat, remove the lid of the canner and let jars sit 5 minutes. Carefully remove the jars and place on a kitchen towel in a draft-free area. Allow to cool undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours. After the jars have cooled completely, test each jar to confirm that they have developed a vacuum seal: Press down in the center of a lid; if the lid feels solid and doesn’t indent, you have a vacuum seal; if the lid depresses and makes a clicking sound, the jar is not sealed (refrigerate unsealed jars and enjoy the cherries within a week; do not try to reprocess).
Once cooled, remove the screw bands from the sealed jars and wipe off any residue around the neck of each jar. Label the jars (include the date) and store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year. Remove the lids with a bottle opener (the type used to remove bottle caps).