Elevate your seasonal sipping game with my cherry gin smash, aka, the most refreshing fruity summer drink for adults. Originally published July 2017. Last updated June 2023.
If you're wondering what drink can I make with fresh summer cherries, you're in the right place. This gin smash is a bright and uniquely-flavored cocktail you'll definitely want in your repertoire. Let's get into the juicy details!
What does it taste like?
The gin cherry smash is one of those rare balanced fruity gin drinks. You'll taste bright, tart, sweet, and fresh flavor notes that complement the gin's botanical blend. It's a great drink for people who love fresh fruit in their cocktails because we don't do any straining here!
I love a fruity gin drink and my Frozen Lycheetini with Gin is another summer fave.
What You'll Need for this Recipe
Cherries are the star here as they provide the color and that sweet juicy, summery flavor. Fresh cherries are best for the sweetest, truest flavor but you can use thawed frozen cherries in a pinch.
Mint Leaves provide that minty, cooling, freshness that makes this a truly refreshing gin cocktail. Use fresh mint of any variety.
Lemon is part of the classic smash cocktail recipe and helps counter all the sweetness of this drink. The benefit of using fresh lemon in this smash drink is that you get not only lemon juice but also lemon oils expressed from the skin. If you don't have access to fresh lemon, use fresh lime or concentrated lemon juice.
Gin - You can't make the perfect gin cocktail for summer without gin. I like Citadelle or Hendrick's gin in this recipe but most any kind works. Ask me how I know!
Elderflower Liqueur provides floral sweetness and an extra boozy kick. Use any brand.
Lemon Lime Soda adds effervescence and I live for a fizzy smash moment! I use Olipop lemon lime soda for a more blood sugar friendly option but feel free to use your favorite. Or you can substitute the lemon lime soda with sparkling water or club soda to reduce the sweetness--it still tastes wonderful!
Check out the recipe card below for full ingredient measurements and instructions.
More Favorite Fruity Cocktails
What is a smash cocktail?
A smash is a type of julep cocktail. The difference is that smash cocktails contain muddled fruit--in this case, cherries and lemon--whereas, julep's just have muddled mint and sugar. And as far as presentation, a julep is typically served over crushed or cobbled ice in a silver cup which is not required for a smash.
Tips & Tools
Grab a muddler, cocktail mixing glass, bar spoon, and a jigger for this recipe. Don't have fancy bar tools? No problem! You can use the blunt end of a wooden kitchen spoon instead of a muddler, a highball glass instead of a mixing glass, butter knife in place of a bar spoon, and a shot glass as your jigger.
Can I make this drink in advance? Yes, you can make the cherry smash ahead of time. Muddle the cherries and mint then mix in the gin and elderflower liqueur. Refrigerate this combination until you're ready to serve then resume the recipe from there.
How to Serve
I love this drink in a modern highball glass over cobbled or pebble ice. Layer the liquor and muddled fruit mixture in a glass, followed by cobbled ice, then the lemon lime soda. This is how to get an ombre effect in your drink and it mimics the presentation of a julep.
For extra presentation points, add a mint sprig garnish and float more fresh cherries on top of the ice. The fresh mint greets your nose with each sip and is another julep callback. Lastly, don’t sip through a straw because the muddled cherries and mint will get stuck.
Pro tip: If you don't have a pebble ice machine, grab a giant cup of Sonic ice for this recipe. It's the perfect texture!
Can I make this drink nonalcoholic?
Absolutely. I get it. I'm a girl who orders mocktails just as often as I order cocktails. There are a variety of reasons to sip zero proof. To make this smash cocktail sober friendly, use elderflower tonic water in place of the lemon lime soda and cut the spirits.
This same tips work if you want to just cut the alcohol in half but keep the same flavor profile. Skip the elderflower liqueur in this case.
More Favorite Summer Cherry Recipes
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Easy Gin Smash Recipe with Cherries
Cherry Elderflower Smash
- 1 muddler
- 1 jigger
- 1 cocktail mixing glass
- 1 bar spoon
- 6 cherries
- 6 mint leaves
- ¼ lemon
- 1.5 ounce gin
- 1.5 ounce elderflower liqueur
- lemon lime soda
- Pit cherries and remove stems.
- Add cherries, mint leaves, and lemon wedge to mixing glass and muddle to express juices and oils (about 30 seconds).
- Add elderflower liqueur and gin to mixing glass and stir vigorously to combine all the flavors (about 15 seconds). Pour mixture into a glass.
- Fill glass ¾ full with ice then top up with lemon lime soda.
- Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint and more cherries, if desired.