Wry Grin

Wry Grin

I’ve purchased a bottle of Bulleit Rye Whiskey at the recommendation of a friend.  I was shifting through my copy of Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, (the book that honestly started all this mess to begin with) and found that with my current bar stock the next best thing to add would be a good rye.

Rye Whiskey makes an appearance in at least 10 drinks in the book and of the other likely candidates was the only one I hadn’t tried yet.  At the above mentioned friend’s birthday a bottle was around and making some fantastic manhattans.  I had already run through the stock of cherry liqueurs that I had brought for the purpose of making hard cherry limeades and had a few odds and ends left around.  This drink was the result and it has been a smash hit ever since.

1oz Limeade
1 1/2 oz Rye Whiskey
2oz Maraschino syrup

Shake, strain into glass over ice.

The flavor has been likened to a jolly rancher, which to my mind simply means sweet but if done properly you get more than a nice dash of both cherry and rye flavors without a lot of burn.  Alcohol flavor about 1/10.

Hard Cherry-Limeade

cherrylimeadeAs promised, my drink of choice in variable recipe format.

Cherry Limeade in general is something that I’ve enjoyed since I was a kid.  In the southwest we had Sonic Drive-ins all over the place and their cherry limeade was a big hit in our family.  A little cherry 7-up, a little limeade,  the lime wedge and maraschino cherry garnish had all the right kinds of things for a growing kid to get hooked on.

When we moved to the Pacific Northwest you can imagine my devastation when we discovered that car hops and Sonic were unheard of in the overcast & perpetually damp corner of the country we now occupied.

That all changed several years ago when the franchise finally made the leap out here but in the interim I had experimented with the creation of the Cherry Limeade at various points when I was working food service.  Most memorably, during a stint as an Ice Cream jockey, where unmonitored access to cherries and a soda fountain on long hot Sunday afternoons was the norm.

When I started looking at making my own cocktails this was the first thing to come to mind.  Fresh juice, a little sweetness and some cherry flavor and you can knock this out of the park.

As I explained in my Limeade Recipe,  the basis of this entire enterprise is finding a good measure of lime flavor.  Without that base you’re lost in the woods and could wind up with something too tart, cloying or worse.  Experiment with small shots first before you step up and if you don’t like the mix adjust the lime juice or syrup.   Even adding a dash more water can even things out.  Once you find your ratios then you need only expand them up to full drink size. (Or even to a punch bowl if that’s your pleasure.)

The Recipe

3 oz Limeade
1 oz Vodka
1/2 oz Cherry Liqueur
1/2 oz Kirschwasser (Cherry Eau de vie)
Splash of club Soda
Maraschino Cherry (garnish)
Lime Wedge (Garnish)

Shake the first 4 ingredients in an iced shaker, strain into a Collins glass.  Top with club soda and garnish.


For my own version I’m currently using an ounce of Volstead Vodka, half ounce of Clear Creek Cherry Liqueur and half ounce of Clear Creek Kirschwasser.  The Volstead has almost no burn at all front or back so it’s like a vodka ninja.  The Clear Creek Cherry is as close to a ripe Bing cherry as you’re likely to get in a bottle.  I haven’t had a chance yet to compare the Clear Creek Kirsch with any of the other brands but I’m happy with about 99% of their other stuff so I’ll stick with the local brand for now.

This mix gives it a nice kick, good cherry flavor, nice color and some subtle nuance from the kirsch that you might otherwise miss in a stronger drink.

For walking around I do about 4 times this amount in a large water bottle and then top with club soda.

Some Variation:

If you want something with a bit less punch, drop the vodka and up the two liqueurs to an ounce each.  You don’t get much of a drop that way but it’s enough to keep it from being a serious slap.

To be more clear:  I recommend trading the cherry liqueur for Maraschino liqueur.  I use Luxardo, I’ve heard there are several better ones but this was one I was able to find in the (pitiful) selection of the liquor store up the street.  And until I’ve finished the bottle I’m not going to invest in another.

If you want to do this on the cheap, a bottle of cherry 7-up and a bottle of Simply limeade with a splash of vodka can do the trick.  It’s not anywhere near the complexity of the cherry flavor you get with either of the above but there’s less mixing and no fuss.

As a cocktail, I like this one without soda most of the time but you can vary your drink a bit with either club soda or some citrus soda.  If you use a sweet soda like sierra mist, sprite or 7-up you can usually avoid the simple syrup in your limeade.  Having both is going to kill any other flavors you might have used with the sugar content playing solo the whole time.


One of the things I’ve been doing most recently is playing around with lime juice.  Personally I consider it a lot more flexible than say lemon or grapefruit juice.  In the citrus family I think only the orange has a better claim to fame.

Sadly there are some things that full on lime juice will not really support and that sweet and sour mix doesn’t need.  I’m a big proponent of making things yourself where you can.  If there is a question of volume, need, frequency or speed I can always see buying what you want but if you have the time to prep, the freshest and best ingredients are the ones you make yourself.

So in that vein I went looking for a good way to make limeade or sour mix in very small quantities, say 1 glass at a time.

My own proportion finally worked out as 1 part each of lime juice, simple syrup and water.  It gives you a nice lime flavor without being too sweet or too sour.  Add another equal part lemon juice and you have sour mix ready to go.  For a single glass an ounce of each is right on the mark.

When i’m mixing for a party I keep a pour bottle of lime juice and a squeeze bottle of limeade ready to hand.  The limeade cuts out the more offensive portions of the base lime juice for when you need something to blend out the alcohol flavors but you don’t exactly want a fully sour drink.