Sour Cherry Gin and Tonic Recipe

By 1 November 2016


Sour cherries are like the unicorn of the cherry world. They’re beautiful to look at. They have pale, red skin that’s super shiny and they taste even better than they look. Sour cherries are the perfect balance between very tart and slightly sweet. They lend themselves to this all sorts of things well like pies, tarts and in my case, a gin and tonic. Unfortunately their window each year is very short–maybe 2 to 3 weeks at most. And in Los Angeles they can be crazy hard to find. Luckily I scored them at a small Armenian produce market that is always chock-full of beautiful fruits and veggies. If you can’t find sour cherries, not to worry, this recipe works splendidly with the regular, ol’ kind.

For years gin and tonics were my go-to drink at a bar; it’s hard to mess them up! I do believe in seeking out tonic water; one that is made using real cinchona bark. A lot of brands use fake stuff to imitate that flavor which results in a weak tasting tonic water. And good gin, too. There are plenty of awesome gin brands that are super delicious and affordable.

This recipe begins with a sour cherry syrup being made. At the end of the syrup-making process, a bit of lime juice is added and I really think that brings out the delicious tartness in the cherries. It enhances something that was already there. These drinks are fragrant, tart and really refreshing. I can’t tell you how much I loved drinking this on a 90-degree Los Angeles day.


Sour Cherry Gin and Tonic:


1 cup (about 1/4) pound sour cherries or regular cherries, pitted
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons, water
3 limes
Gin of choice
Tonic of choice


  • In a medium saucepan, set over medium heat, combine the cherries, sugar and water. Using a wooden spoon, mash the cherries with the back of a spoon. Cover the pot and bring the mixture to a simmer, allowing the cherries to cook down and thicken. Note: If you’re using regular cherries, this may take longer as they tend to be much studier and less juicy than sour cherries. You also might need to add a splash or two of extra water.
  • Turn off the heat and allow the syrup to come to room temperature; the mixture will thicken as it cools. Run the cherry mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing the cherry pulp with the back of a spoon to release all of its juices. Squeeze in the juice from 1 lime.
  • To assemble the cocktails, add about 1 1/2 ounces of cherry syrup and 2 ounces of gin to each glass. Add ice and top the whole drink off with a few splashes of tonic water. Garnish with a few slices of lime.

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