Vodka Cherry Limeade

This cocktail is the perfect sipper on a Southern summer day.

vodka cherry limeade in pitchers and glasses
Photo: Photographer: Antonis Achilleos; Prop Stylist:Christine Keely; Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer
Active Time:
5 mins
Total Time:
5 mins
Servings:
2

We love a simple, crowd-friendly cocktail that still delivers big on flavor and potency, and this recipe for Vodka Cherry Limeade definitely fits into that category.

"Cherries and limes pair beautifully, and a spiked limeade makes a super refreshing and easy drinking summer cocktail," says bar manager/owner of Simple Goodness Soda Shop Belinda Kelly of the evaluation of this warm-weather winner made with vodka, lemon-lime soda, maraschino cherry juice, and lime.

In terms of flavor, it packs a one-two punch of sweet and tart. Plus, it gains a beautiful red hue from the maraschino cherry juice; be sure to save some cherries to garnish this pretty drink.

The delicate flavors of this beverage all blend together well, creating a multi-faceted cocktail that can be deceptively strong. Consider yourself warned—the vodka in this drink disguises itself quite well, and you may start to feel it soon after downing a glass.

Which Vodka Works Best in This Recipe?

Vodka Cherry Limeade can feature whichever vodka you prefer—or whichever vodka you happen to have on-hand. That said, if you're looking for a vodka that will particularly complement the other flavors in this cocktail, consider one of these versions recommended by pro bartenders and cocktail experts:

Corn-Based Vodka
According to co-founder Jordan Catapano of This Girl Walks Into A Bar, corn-based vodka is a good move for this cocktail because "it's sweeter than grain or potato [vodka]." Popular corn-based brands include Tito's, Prairie Vodka, and Deep Eddy.

Deep Eddy Lime Vodka
Speaking of Deep Eddy, it's easy to assume that using a flavored vodka in the context of Vodka Cherry Limeade would result in an overly-sweet and cloying drink. Luckily, owner Courtney Smith of Chesapeake Bartenders in Maryland assures us that Deep Eddy Lime Vodka (which is made in Central Texas) "has a great lime flavor" that isn't overwhelming.

Absolut Vodka
For founder Lydia Martin of Liquor Laboratory, the clean, neutral flavor of Absolut Vodka is the ideal choice for Vodka Cherry Limeade. Plus, this wheat-based Swedish vodka can be purchased at a very reasonable price, which makes it a great candidate for large-batch Vodka Cherry Limeade (more on that later).

Grey Goose Vodka
For an especially fancy-feeling Vodka Cherry Limeade, add premium Grey Goose Vodka from France. Bar manager Brianna Parino of Gertie's Whiskey Bar and The 404 Kitchen in Nashville, Tennessee, says that Grey Goose "is very smooth and clean," which allows it to bolster the flavors of the limeade without distracting from them.

Which Soda Works Best in This Recipe?

We've also asked our bartender sources to recommend the best citrus sodas for Vodka Cherry Limeade, and their suggestions are as follows:

Sprite
Just as she chooses to keep things classic with Absolut Vodka, Martin also prefers an easy-to-find and well-known lemon-lime soda for this cocktail: Sprite. It's worth considering that Sprite is sweeter than many competitors, so keep that fact in mind when mixing your cocktail.

Squirt
Catapano selects Squirt for this cocktail because "it has the most intense citrus taste for a citrus soda." It's also a slight departure from the recipe as-written, because Squirt is a grapefruit soda rather than a lemon-lime soda.

Cherry Seltzer
Instead of using a lemon-lime soda (or a citrus soda of any kind), Smith advises changing the recipe up by including cherry seltzer (like Polar Black Cherry). You'll still get citrusy notes from the lime juice in the cocktail, but the cherry seltzer gives the maraschino juice some extra oomph while also reducing the cocktail's sugar content.

How to Make Vodka Cherry Limeade

vodka cherry limeade ingredients
Photographer: Antonis Achilleos; Prop Stylist:Christine Keely; Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer

This recipe begins by measuring out four ounces of vodka, which equals ½ cup. Next, you'll measure out ¼ cup of juice from a jar of maraschino cherries. Squeeze the juice of 1 lime (which should equal about 2 tablespoons) into a small bowl or cup. Finally, measure out 1 tablespoon of simple syrup. If you don't have pre-made simple syrup available, you can make your own.

stirring together vodka cherry limeade in a pitcher
Photographer: Antonis Achilleos; Prop Stylist:Christine Keely; Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer

Add the ingredients to a pitcher and stir to combine. Then, pour in the soda and give the mixture a gentle stir (don't overmix, as this can lessen the carbonation).

overhead shot of a pitcher of vodka cherry limeade
Photographer: Antonis Achilleos; Prop Stylist:Christine Keely; Food Stylist: Chelsea Zimmer

Fill two glasses with ice and pour the Vodka Cherry Limeade over the ice. Garnish with lime wheels and marachino cherries.

How to Turn This Recipe Into a Big Batch Cocktail

Although the recipe only produces two servings of Vodka Cherry Limeade, it can be easily adapted into a party punch. You can simply multiple the recipe by the number of servings you want, or you can go a different direction and adapt this recipe to the suggestion below.

Smith recommends putting sliced limes and fresh cherries (not maraschino cherries) into a large pitcher or drink dispenser. Next, she adds sugar (she personally likes to add ½ cup, but you can adjust your amount to taste), which "helps macerate the fruit," effectively giving this cocktail the sangria treatment. She then multiplies the recipe's ingredients by six, adds a can of frozen pre-made limeade, and omits the simple syrup entirely (because "the limeade is already sweet"). She tops the pitcher off with black cherry seltzer, puts it into the fridge for at least an hour to chill, and serves it "over ice, with a cherry and lime garnish." This large-scale spin on Vodka Cherry Limeade makes 12 servings.

Editorial contributions by Taylor Tobin.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup (4 ounces) vodka

  • 2 cups lemon-lime soft drink (from 1 [2-liter] bottle), chilled

  • ¼ cup maraschino cherry juice (from 1 [10-ounce] jar cherries), plus maraschino cherries with stems for garnish

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 1 lime)

  • 1 tablespoon simple syrup

  • Lime wheels

Directions

  1. Stir together vodka, soft drink, cherry juice, lime juice, and simple syrup in a small pitcher. Serve over ice, and garnish with cherries and lime wheels.

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