When you need a summery cocktail bursting with fresh fruit flavor, look no further than this refreshing cherry vodka sour! Made with freshly muddled cherries and bright lemon juice, this cherry vodka cocktail tastes like summer in every delightful sip. You won’t find a more perfect drink for celebrating fresh cherry season. Now let’s grab some sweet cherries and start mixing your new favorite summer cocktail.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
Real ingredients make for a better cocktail: I’ve seen a lot of cherry vodka sour recipes use grenadine and sour mix, but that’s not how we roll here. We use real cherries and fresh-squeezed lemon juice for a premium craft cocktail.
Made for cherry lovers: By muddling the fresh cherries, we infuse this drink with so much fruity flavor. I actually tried this drink side by side with a version that used a homemade cherry simple syrup, which was still tasty, but the muddled cherries added way more bright flavor. Of course, you can also use that cherry syrup for an extra fruity touch, but don't skip the muddling.
That perfect sweet and sour balance: I crafted this cherry vodka sour cocktail to perfectly show off both flavor notes, which results in an ultra refreshing, crisp drink that’s perfect for those hot summer nights.
Makes for an impressive presentation: How pretty is this drink with that lovely red hue and creamy, frothy topping? Gorgeous! As soon as you set down this drink, your guests will swoon.
Now let’s chat about the ingredients we need for this cherry vodka sour recipe.
Fresh cherries: While I definitely recommend going fresh in the summer, cherries are typically only available from May to August or September. If you’d like to make this drink throughout the year, you can use frozen cherries. Just make sure you thaw them first. I prefer to use sweet cherries rather than sour cherries.
Vodka: For the smoothest drinking experience, I recommend storing your vodka in the freezer and using the best quality within your budget. Grey Goose and Belvedere are great for more of a top-shelf cocktail, but Tito’s and Absolut are tasty mid-range options. Ultra cheap vodka is too harsh.
Lemon juice: Always use fresh lemon juice, not bottled juice. Bottled juice is not as flavorful, bright or crisp. Trust me — I’ve tried side-by-side tastings, and it makes a world of difference.
Simple syrup: You can buy simple syrup, but I prefer to make my own. That way, we just get pure syrup, and it truly is as easy as can be. We simply add 1 cup water and 1 cup white sugar to a small saucepan, bring to a boil and stir to dissolve the sugar. As long as you store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator, it should last for about a month.
Egg white: Sounds weird? I promise it’s not. In fact, egg white is actually a common cocktail ingredient. This is what gives us that frothy topping. It’s pretty much flavorless but adds such a wonderfully smooth texture.
Bitters: I used classic angostura bitters, but feel free to use another variety. Orange bitters, for instance, would also work nicely.
Step 1: We start by adding the fresh cherries and simple syrup to a cocktail shaker and then muddling them until the cherries break down like so (photo 1).
Step 2: Now we add the vodka, lemon juice, egg white and bitters to the cocktail shaker (photo 2) and give it a shake for 30 seconds without ice. This is called the dry shake (photo 3).
Step 3: We remove the cocktail shaker top, add ice cubes (photo 4) and shake again for at least a minute. This is called the wet shake.
Step 4: For our final step, we strain the drink into a chilled cocktail glass (photo 5).
If you’re feeling extra fancy, I love garnishing with a lemon twist. You could even add a Luxardo or maraschino cherry. Now relax and enjoy every sip of this delicious cherry vodka sour.
A sour cocktail always includes a spirit, citrus and sweetener with an egg white and bitters also being common ingredients. They can be made with any type of spirit or citrus, though lemon is most commonly used.
If you don’t want to use an egg white, you can skip it, but keep in mind, you won’t get that frothy topping. That said, I promise the flavor is neutral if that’s what’s holding you back.
Some people substitute an egg white for aquafaba, which is the liquid found in a can of chickpeas, or a fake foam frothing substance. But I prefer using a real egg white.
You can’t go wrong with a sour glass. This type of glass was designed with an outwardly curved edge that guides the egg white topping right onto your tongue.
If you don’t have a sour glass, a coupe glass is a popular alternative. You could even use a rocks glass.
I have two easy methods for chilling a glass — one method requires a little planning and the other method we can do while mixing the drink.
For the plan-ahead option, simply place the glass in the freezer for 30 minutes before serving. If you forget to do this or whip up this drink on a whim, fill the glass with ice water while mixing. Right before straining, stir the ice water for about 30 seconds and then pour out the contents. Just like that, you have a chilled glass.
While this is a cherry drink, you can easily substitute other fruit and use the same proportions. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and peaches all work well, just to name a few.
Use other types of liquor. Bourbon and cherries are wonderful together, especially if you opt for my cherry-infused bourbon. Gin adds a lovely floral, citrusy quality, and a white or dark rum gives it a tropical twist.
Add extra flavor with an infused simple syrup. For instance, my fresh ginger simple syrup would give it a delicious spice kick.
Swap lemon juice for lime juice. Cherries work well with both. You could also use some freshly squeezed orange juice.
Use a fresh or pasteurized egg white: While the risk using the egg white is minimal, we still want to be safe and use a fresh egg white that’s been inspected and keep the eggs in the coldest part of the refrigerator. A pasteurized egg white is also a safe option.
Get the most from your lemon: Before juicing, firmly roll the lemon on the countertop under the palm of your hand. This gets the juice flowing.
Before careful when handling the cherries: Cherry juice stains easily, so clean up any remnants that might get on your countertop or wooden cutting board immediately.
Shake in a mason jar: If you have a stainless steel cocktail shaker, the dry shake can get a little messy because it doesn’t have the ice to create a seal. In that case, I find a mason jar with a solid lid is best for the dry shake. However, if you have a cocktail shaker with a rubber lining on the top, those tend to seal well enough for the dry shake.
Let’s take advantage of cherry season and enjoy this drink with a big slice of my chocolate-covered cherry cheesecake. Besides the obvious cherry flavor match, the bright lemon is perfect with that tangy cream cheese filling.
For the perfect fruity summer drink, I hope you try this fresh cherry vodka sour. Every sip is like summer in a glass.
More Summer Cocktails
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Cherry Vodka Sour
- Cherry pitter
- Cocktail shaker
- Handheld citrus juicer
- Jigger or small measuring cup
- 6 cherries pitted and stemmed
- 1 ounce simple syrup
- 2 ounces vodka
- 1 ounce freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- 1 egg white
- Few dashes of angostura bitters
- Lemon twist for garnish, optional
- Add the cherries and simple syrup to the cocktail shaker and muddle until the cherries break down and are nice and juicy.
- Pour in the vodka, lemon juice, egg white and bitters. Put on the cocktail shaker top and shake without ice for 30 seconds. This is our dry shake.
- Add a handful of ice. Shake again for at least a minute to continue building that frothy topping.
- Strain into a chilled sour or coupe glass. If desired, garnish with a lemon twist. Enjoy!
- While the risk using the egg white is minimal, we still want to be safe and use a fresh egg white that’s been inspected and keep the eggs in the coldest part of the refrigerator. A pasteurized egg white is also a safe option.
- Before juicing, firmly roll the lemon on the countertop under the palm of your hand. This gets the juice flowing.
- If you have a stainless steel cocktail shaker, the dry shake can get a little messy because it doesn’t have the ice to create a seal. In that case, I find a mason jar with a solid lid is best for the dry shake. However, if you have a cocktail shaker with a rubber lining on the top, those tend to seal well enough for the dry shake.
- Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.