This summer cocktail will refresh and release you into that relaxing state of mind connected with vacations, cookouts, and warm weather. Whether you are by a pool relaxing, chasing kids around the yard, or visiting friends, a nice balanced and bright cocktail like this cherry vodka sour can send you into wind-down mode and take away the load of a busy fall, winter, and spring.
Put your mind at ease. Take a deep breath of summer air, and sip slowly on this delicious cherry vodka sour.
This particular cherry vodka sour takes two classics, “The Shirley Temple” and lemonade, mixing them together with playfulness, and achieving a cocktail that is slightly sweet, and perfectly sour. The drink can be enjoyed without alcohol, but adding a spirit like vodka gives it that extra pizzaz.
These drinks are good, so be sure to drink at a leisurely pace.
The Star Ingredients
This is my take on the classic cherry vodka sour, but you can find many variations on this cocktail or even come up with your own. Here are the six simple ingredients I used:
- Juice of one whole lemon
- Sparkling lemon water
Bartending Tools for Cherry Vodka Sour
While not absolutely necessary, you may want to use a shaker, muddler, and a jigger for this recipe. Similar results can be achieved with a spoon and a measuring cup.
How do I choose my vodka?
If you prefer an extra sweet version of this cocktail, try cherry infused vodka or even vodka infused with other flavors that are compatible with tart, sweet flavor of cherries. Here are some options of infused vodkas to try out with this drink:
- Pomegranate infused vodka
- Blueberry infused vodka
- Rose infused vodka
- Apple infused vodka
- Strawberry basil infused vodka
You can even infuse your own vodka with ingredients you have at home.
If you prefer to play up the sour elements of this drink, you can stick with regular vodka or try one of these infused vodkas:
- Cranberry infused vodka
- Lemon infused vodka
How do I store my vodka?
Because vodka is often served chilled, and it does not freeze, you can store it in your freezer. Since many refrigerators do not allow for an entire vodka bottle to stand upright inside of them, be sure to secure your lid tightly on the bottle before laying it gently on its side.
What if I don’t drink alcohol?
This drink is a play on combining “The Shirley Temple” and lemonade, so you really do not have to add any alcohol. You can simply eliminate the vodka and add more sparking water, or you can add ginger ale like the classic “Shirley Temple.”
Ginger ale gives a punch of spice to the drink mixture, balancing out the sweetness of the grenadine.
Flavored sparkling water such as lime, lemon, pomegranate, etc… can add flavor to the drink without adding too much sugar. You can then balance that with natural fruits to create something magical like a cherry limeade.
Juices such as cranberry, apple, and orange juice can also make a great refreshing substitute for this drink.
Other sodas can also be substituted for alcohol. Sprite gives this drink a balanced flavor by adding citrus flavors like lemon and lime to the cherry pomegranate goodness. Coke and pepsi pair great with cherries and grenadine. You can even find premed cherry cokes in grocery stores and gas stations, but imagine how much better it tastes to make your own with fresh ingredients.
When choosing a substitute for vodka, just remember carbonated beverages should not be used in the shaking process as their fizz will cause a sticky, bubbly mess.
What is grenadine?
Grenadine is a sweetened pomegranate syrup made most popular by a classic drink: “The Shirley Temple.” Because of its sweetness and color, most people associate the flavor with cherries. It pairs beautifully with cherries and other slightly tart fruits.
When are cherries in season?
While availability of cherries can vary depending on what region you live in, cherries are typically known as a summer fruit available from May-August.
You can find our more about specific cherries here on Minnetonka Orchards on our All About Cherries and Cherry Trees page.
Can I make this with frozen or canned cherries?
If you are looking for a more syrupy, sweet cocktail, you can try using canned cherries. Pouring a tiny bit of the syrup from your can into the cocktail creates a sugary splendor for those who like it sweet.
You can even use the frozen cherries as ice cubes or try freezing natural cherries. This will keep your drink from getting watery as it sits in the heat.
I prefer natural cherries, because they absorb the flavor of the vodka cherry sour as they soak in it, and you are left with a delightful snack at the end of your drink.
What if I don’t have lemons or cherries?
Many recipes for cherry vodka sour call for sour mix in place of lemons. They also occasionally call for other fresh fruits and simple syrup to balance out any bitter or tart flavored fruits.
Sour mix is simply flavored liquid (typically lime or lemon), sweetened, and added most frequently to sodas and spirited drinks.
Other fresh fruits that pair nicely with grenadine:
Practically, anything you could imagine floating around in a pomegranate infused liquid, complimenting both sweet and tart flavors, will be perfect for this drink.
Adding simple syrup to your cocktail will give it even more sweetness, so be careful how much you use if you are already using grenadine and other fruit juices or syrups to sweeten your drink. A little really does go a long way.
Basically, simple syrup is an even mixture of boiling hot water and sugar. The sugar melts into the water creating a thickened liquid that you can use to add sweetness to drinks. Be sure to make sure your simple syrup has cooled enough before adding it to cold beverages as it will melt ice and make your beverage more watery when hot.
Why sparkling water?
Technically, adding sparkling water in place of simple syrup just makes the drink fizzier and lighter. The carbonated water also adds to the volume of non-alcoholic liquid, making the drink smoother and easier to drink. For those of you who count calories and watch your sugar intake, the sparkling water adds a depth of flavor without the depth of calories and sugar.
Does this drink pair well with any particular food?
Since cherry vodka sours rely heavily on their balance of sweetness and sour, they actually go well with bar-b-q. The sweet and sour notes mixed with smokey chicken or pork achieves balance and harmony in a meal. (You can even swap the vodka out for bourbon to pair nicely with the pork.)
I love having appetizers with my cocktails before I start a meal. Tiny treats like egg rolls and plum sauce, or flat bread with humus and a drizzle of pomegranate molasses are perfect savory/ sweet pairing for the cherry vodka sour.
I find drinks and food compliment each other well when they share a common ingredient. If you agree, you might try Sous vide and grilled chicken with cherry bbq sauce.
And if you really want to embrace the cherry theme, you can try a cherry cheese cake for dessert.
- Vodka (2 1/2 oz.- cherry infused or regular)
- Grenadine (2-4 large squeezes- depending on how sweet you like it)
- Cherries (2 for muddling, 2-4 per drink)
- Ice (7-8 cubes for shaking, 3-5 for glass)
- Juice of one whole lemon
- Sparkling lemon water (12 oz.)
Step 1: Add 7-8 ice cubes to a large cocktail shaker along with 2 1/2 oz. of vodka of your choice, 2-4 large squeezes of grenadine, and the juice of one whole lemon.
Step 2: Place topper on cocktail shaker and shake cocktail liquid vigorously for 10-20 seconds. When the exterior of your cocktail shaker feels cold, your interior liquid will also be cold.
Step 3: Muddle one cherry at the bottom of an “old-fashioned” size glass (or a shorter glass). add one un-muddled cherry to your glass along with 2-4 pieces of ice.
Step 4: Remove top of cocktail shaker from shaker, leaving the stainer in tact. pour cocktail liquid over the ice and cherries in glass.
Step 5: Add sparkling water and remaining cherry to your glass.
Step 6: stir your drink and enjoy.
Note: If you feel you would like to add more sweetness or color to your drink, squeeze a little more grenadine into your cherry vodka soda, stirring to distribute flavor throughout the drink.