Need a new summer drink? Here's how to make sparkling cherry limeade with real cherries and a shot of bourbon whiskey. For the grown & sexy only. Originally published July 2021. Last updated June 2023.
Summer calls for ice cold, refreshing fountain drinks. And, if you're of legal drinking age with real-life responsibilities to manage and celebrate, it calls for a spirited fountain drink. That's where my adult cherry limeade cocktail comes in! It has all the flavor and effervescence of fresh cherry limeade with little hit of bourbon. What could be better? Get to scrolling then get to sipping.
Boozy Cherry Limeade Ingredients
So what is in a cherry limeade, anyway? The ingredients are simple and you probably have most on hand already.
Sweet Cherries are the backbone here for flavor and color. Use fresh cherries, if you can find them or frozen and thawed cherries if you can't.
Bourbon - I like Fistful Bourbon or Uncle Nearest 1856 in this recipe but feel free to use your favorite. We tend to associate dark liquor with warm and cozy drinks but they have the range to satisfy in any season. So my boozy summertime limeade is in good company.
Fresh Lime Juice is key for those summertime limeade vibes and by muddling it, you get both lime juice from the flesh and oils from the peel. If you don't have fresh lime available, concentrated lime juice will work in a pinch.
Maraschino Cherry Syrup adds that nostalgic fountain drink taste that reminds me of childhood. You can purchase it on its own or steal some from a jar of maraschino cherries.
Lemon Lime Soda adds the bubbly, fizzy, fun factor that Sonic's cherry limeade is known for. Use whichever brand you prefer. If you want to cut down the sweetness, use sparkling water plus extra lime juice.
Check out the recipe card below for full ingredient measurements and instructions.
Can I make substitutions in this recipe?
You can make this cherry limeade with vodka, tequila, or your spirit of choice but it's best with bourbon, in my humble opinion. Even though bourbon pairs well with a variety of seasonal flavors from fresh peaches to juicy berries (check this one out!), a good summer cocktail with whiskey can be hard to come by.
More Favorite Summer Whiskey Cocktails
Try one of these whiskey drinks for warm weather
- Blood Orange Bourbon Smash
- Bubbly Bourbon & Blackberries
- Kentucky Bourbon Mule
- Pineapple Whiskey Sipper
Cocktail Tools You Might Need
As far as tools for this recipe, you'll want to have a few on deck. Though not required, they certainly make the process easier. First up is a cherry pitter. I love this one and have used it for years without issue.
Try this method for pitting cherries if you don't have one or just cut them in halves and pull out the seeds with your fingers. The last method is messier and less sanitary but if you're the only one drinking and have washed your hands, have at it!
Next is a muddler to crush the cherries and lime wedges. If you don't have one, use the back end of a wooden cooking spoon and just a touch more elbow grease. Lastly, I love and recommend my bar spoon for stirring cocktails, especially in highball glasses like this bourbon & cherry limeade calls for. Don't have one? No problem. Use a regular table spoon instead.
Tips for this Recipe
What kind of soda to use in cherry limeade? These days, fountain style cherry limeade is made with lemon-lime soda. That can be Sprite, 7UP, store brand, or whatever your fave is. If you want to cut some of the sugar and calories, try making limeade with club soda instead.
Is cherry limeade soda? No, cherry limeade is fizzy and contains soda but is not technically soda itself. You can mix this cocktail with still water instead of bubbly soda if you want to skip the carbonation.
Where to find maraschino cherry syrup? Maraschino syrup is sold by the bottle or you can do like I do and use the excess from a jar of preserved maraschino cherries. In a pinch, grenadine can also work.
Can I make cherry limeade with fresh cherries?
Short answer: Yes, absolutely! I add a bit of maraschino cherry syrup to this recipe because my association with cherry limeade comes from summer trips to Sonic happy hour and they ain't using fresh cherries there. But the true cherry flavor and deep red color of this cocktail come from fresh muddled cherries.
I hope you get to responsibly indulge and imbibe in a refreshing bourbon cocktail for summer soon and very soon. And sharing is caring so be sure to pin this spiked limeade recipe over on Pinterest. Thanks for reading!
How to Make a Cherry Limeade with Bourbon
Bourbon Cherry Limeade Cocktail
- 1 muddler
- 1 jigger
- 1 bar spoon
- 1 Cherry pitter
- 5 cherries pitted
- 1 lime
- ¾ ounce maraschino cherry syrup
- lemon lime soda
- 2 ounces bourbon
- Add cherries to a highball glass and use a muddler to carefully crush and release their juices.
- Cut lime into 4 wedges. Add one wedge and muddle to release lime juice. Repeat with remaining wedges.
- Add ice to glass, followed by bourbon and maraschino cherry syrup then top up with lemon lime soda. Gently stir to combine then enjoy responsibly.