When we made this sweet-tart Cherry Mocktail in our test kitchen, the response from our taste-testers was, to quote them verbatim, “Yum, yum, yum! This cherry slushy tastes nothing like the gas-station slushies of our youth.” Not that there’s anything wrong with those slushies, of course. We have fond memories of skateboarding around the parking lot when we were teenagers, slurping them down. It’s just that our tastes have progressed a bit since then. If yours have, too, we’re excited to introduce you to this charming drink.
Our Cherry Mocktail is bursting with sweet-tart cherry purée and fresh vanilla bean, which adds a floral depth. If procuring a vanilla bean seems like a pain, don’t worry: you can substitute two teaspoons of vanilla extract. The mint leaves add another layer of complexity.
The beauty of this drink is you can serve it at a kid’s birthday party or baby shower or enjoy it for a special occasion with your significant other. Plus, prep is a breeze. You can make the juice in advance, so when the time comes to raise a glass for an anniversary toast — or just because it’s a lovely, lazy Saturday afternoon — all you have to do is assemble it.
Preparation time: 10 minutes, plus 2 hours cooling
Cook time: 20 minutes
2 pounds frozen cherries
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
½ cup water
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 vanilla bean
4 ounces vodka (optional)
8 cups shaved ice
Mint leaves, for garnish
- In a large saucepan, combine the cherries, sugar, water, lemon juice and a pinch of salt.
- Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds out of the pod with the back of a knife. Add the seeds and the pod to the saucepan and stir to combine.
- Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and boil for 10 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and cool for 10 minutes. Remove and discard the vanilla bean pod.
- Pour the cherry mixture into a blender, and blend on high until the mixture is smooth, about 30 seconds. Refrigerate syrup until chilled, about 2 hours. The syrup can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- If adding vodka, pour it into the chilled cherry syrup and stir to combine.
- Place a cup of shaved ice in a serving dish, drizzle with ½ cup cherry syrup and garnish with a mint leaf. Repeat with desired servings.
Recipe adapted from The Noshery