Cherry Syrup & Whiskey Sour Recipes

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So, I missed fresh cherry season to post this recipe for you all. Thankfully, I thought ahead and made some extra syrup, and I’ve been storing cherries dipped in alcohol for a while now. With some pitted cherries, you too can enjoy a cherry whiskey sour anytime.

If that sounds like your kind of thing, keep reading! I’ve got a great 2-in-1 special for you: a delicious, easy-to-drink cocktail, and a wonderfully rich syrup that goes a long way beyond just making this one drink.

Cherry whiskey sour with Luxardo maraschino cherries.
Cherry whiskey sour with homemade Luxardo maraschino cherries.

Cherry whiskey sour

This simple riff on the whiskey sour adds notes of stonefruit sweetness while keeping the refreshing tartness of the sour. It’s remarkably refreshing and goes well with most whiskies. Just avoid anything too dry or smoky. As you can see in the main image for this recipe, I used Four Roses Single Barrel bourbon. It has a ton of flavour that balances out the sweet and citrusy notes this drink offers.

Unlike a classic whiskey sour, I don’t generally make this one with egg white. You can certainly try if you like that, but I find that the liquid consistency works well here. Plus, serving this one with ice lets you keep sipping on a cool refreshing drink until the last drop.

The cherry syrup goes great for other cocktails and desserts as well. You can keep the cherries soaking in the syrup, or put them in a little jar of brandy, whiskey, or maraschino liqueur. They’ll keep almost indefinitely in the fridge thanks to the sugar and alcohol.

Cherry syrup is a great addition to dessert and coffee!
Cherry syrup goes great with vanilla almond ice cream! Right alongside my other favourite combo: maple syrup and blueberries! I made a drink for that too, which you can find here.

Making the cherry syrup

For the syrup we start with a simple 1:1 ratio of water and sugar (I prefer raw cane sugar). Add half as much maraschino liqueur as water (I like Luxardo), and some fresh, pitted cherries. I give you this ratio so that you can decide exactly how much (or how little) you want to make.

Once you have a batch of homemade cherry syrup, the sky is the limit. Although I love slinging back a cherry sour, you don’t have to save it all for drinks. This syrup is a great addition to desserts of all kinds. I like to add some to ice cream or on waffles.

If you think it’s too watery, you can easily get it to be the consistency of a dessert syrup by adding some cream of tartar, gum arabic, or another thickener while it is hot. You could also add more sugar during cooking, but in my opinion the 1:1 ratio of sugar to water is enough.

Too much sugar could make the syrup too intense and drown out the natural cherry flavour. The natural sugars from the cherries already add sweetness and help the syrup keep for longer.

Cherries used to make cherry syrup for desserts and cocktails. They are rich, sweet, and soft.
You can keep the cherries you use for the syrup! Soak them in brandy or whiskey for extra flavour. Goes great in an Old Fashioned and keeps almost indefinitely in the fridge.

A little bit of maraschino liqueur goes a long way here. It has a surprisingly dry start that slowly unfolds into rich cherry flavour at the edges of your mouth. It leaves a warm feeling in your mouth to finish, complementing the syrupy cherry sweetness.

If you love cherry flavours, you’ll also love the tart, layered, and refreshing Last Word cocktail with gin, Chartreuse, and lime. If you’re up to making one, the syrup gets plenty of use in a Black Forest Cake too.

Showing the cherry whiskey sour with bourbon, lemon, and cherry syrup.

Cherry Whiskey Sour

This simple riff on the whiskey sour with homemade cherry syrup adds notes of stonefruit sweetness while staying refreshingly tart.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cherry Syrup Time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Dessert, Digestif, Drinks
Cuisine American
Servings 1 cocktail

Equipment

  • Pot to cook the syrup
  • Cocktail shaker
  • Ice
  • Hawthorne strainer
  • Jigger or measuring cups
  • Rocks glass (to serve)

Ingredients
  

For the drink

  • 2 oz (60 ml) whiskey bourbon works well, or try a lighter rye, blended malt, or Canadian whisky
  • 1 oz (30 ml) cherry syrup (see below)
  • 1 oz (30 ml) lemon juice or mix lemon with lime for a more tart sour
  • orange peel to garnish
  • soaked cherry (see below) to garnish

For the cherry syrup

  • 1 part sugar
  • 1 part water
  • 1/2 part maraschino cherry liqueur
  • fresh, pitted cherries use about 10 cherries per 1/2 cup of water

Instructions
 

Cherry Syrup

  • In a pot, bring water to a simmer then add sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Add cherries and maraschino liqueur. Stir often for the next 10-15 minutes. You can go longer if you want. The longer they sit, the more cherry flavour will absorb into the syrup, and the more sugar and alcohol soaked the cherries will be.
  • Serve the cherries for dessert with cake or ice cream, or keep them inside the syrup to use as cocktail garnishes. The syrup will keep in the fridge for a few months given the amount of sugar and alcohol it contains.

Whiskey Sour

  • Prepare serving glass with ice.
  • Place the three liquid ingredients and some ice into your shaker. Seal tightly and shake for 10-15 minutes.
  • Unseal shaker, put the strainer over the shaker cup and pour into serving glass.
  • Twist the orange peel over the glass to get some of the oils onto the glass. This adds aroma and delicate citrus flavour.
  • Garnish with orange peel and cherry on top. Enjoy!

Notes

Making your own cherry syrup is a beautiful thing. Of course, if you don’t have access to fresh cherries you can always use the syrup from canned or jarred cherries – just be careful that there may be a lot more added sugar and other preservatives. You can also skip the maraschino liqueur if you can’t find it or buy it, but keep in mind this will mean your syrup will not keep in the fridge for nearly as long.
 
What’s your favourite whiskey sour? Let me know with a comment below, and tag me on Instagram @the.phil.osopher with photos of your cherry sour and syrup. I’d also love to hear thoughts on what other cake recipes you’d like to see.
 
Keyword American, bitters, bourbon, Canadian, cherries, cherry, glass, lemon, lime, liqueur, maraschino, red, rocks, rye, shaken, sour, syrup, whiskey, whisky

Thanks for stopping by! If you like this kind of article, why not check out some of my other cocktail recipes as well?

Enjoying a cherry whiskey sour with orange peel and maraschino cherry.
Voila! Enjoy your cherry sour, you’ve earned it!

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