You’ve got to try this boozy fresh cherry lemonade recipe! It’s a hit with guests and there’s a non-boozy version for those of you who prefer to not drink alcohol.
Oh my goodness, it’s been hot. One day, it was lovely and cool with the blue summer sky stretching wide the way it only does in Kansas. The next? Just stepping outdoors for a few minutes leaves my clothes sticking to my skin and both me and my dog panting for breath.
And it’s not even officially summer yet!
Even though I’m a wimp when it comes to hot temperatures and high humidity, I love being outdoors. I just shift the more strenuous activities to early in the morning. If I’m good about waking at 7 am, my dog and I can get our walk done before the temperatures reach 80°F. Then it’s off to the garden to water, weed, and see what vegetables we’ll be having with dinner.
After that? Well, I’m pooped. Heat can take a lot out of a person, making it extra important to hydrate throughout the day. Sure, it’s essential that most of that hydration come through water or other non-alcoholic liquids, but come five o’clock it’s nice to have something a little more adult to enjoy.
That’s how this Boozy Fresh Cherry Lemonade Recipe was born. I’d invited some friends over for a cookout and realized there wasn’t a beer drinker among us. I could’ve served wine, since we all like that, but while shopping at the last minute for ingredients to make my homemade BBQ sauce I spied some gorgeous Bing cherries on sale.
Around this time of year, I always feel a bit sorry for Bing cherries since this is Rainier season and everyone seems to prefer them. Raniers do taste much better when you’re eating them by the handful, but they can’t match Bing cherries for color. I guess the grocery store felt sorry for them, too, because they were still charging a premium for the Rainiers but the Bings were under $2/lb.
Now, I make fresh lemonade quite a lot throughout the summer. After the first week or two of the standard stuff, I start wanting a bit of variety. That’s why I came up with 10 Lemonade Variations, but this time I wanted something more festive.
Which is not to say that you have to make this Boozy Fresh Cherry Lemonade recipe using liquor. It’s also good without. Fresh cherries and lemons aren’t negotiable, though: you won’t get the same flavor with frozen cherries or lemonade mix. Besides, this is the season for fresh stuff!
So, start with fresh cherries and take out the pits. If you want to make quick work of it, use a cherry pitter like mine — it works to pit olives, too. Or you can slice them around the middle, flip them open, and pick the pit out. It’s your call.
Mix the fresh cherries with the sugar on the stove, add 1 cup of water, and bring it to a boil while stirring often. This creates a simple syrup that takes on the color of cherries. While that cools, juice 2 to 3 large lemons until you’ve got a cup of lemon juice. Then combine it all, along with 3 cups of water and 1 cup of cherry-flavored vodka — or just another cup of water for a booze-free version. Chill and serve over ice with a garnish.
Boozy Fresh Cherry Lemonade
- 1 lb. pitted fresh Bing cherries weighed before removing pits
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 to 3 large lemons juiced (enough to make 1 cup)
- 1 cup cherry-flavored vodka I used UV Cherry
- 3 to 4 cups water
- In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the cherries, sugar, and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil while stirring frequently. Remove from heat and let it cool for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, combine lemon juice, vodka (if using) and 3 cups water (4 if not using vodka) in a large pitcher. Add the cooled cherry syrup. Stir and add ice.
- Garnish with mint, lemon slices, and additional cherries.
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