Cherry limeade

Cherry limeade

Borsch, Vodka and Tears
Bonnie Savage

The story of this drink begins on a hot dusty road half a world away and in another century.

The first time I travelled around America, I hadn’t had much experience. I had no itinerary, no job or girl waiting at home. Stepping off the plane in LA I was scared as hell, but I knew I was as close to being completely free as I’d ever been in my life. A few months in, I had managed to fall in love at a bus stop in Boulder, Colorado, with a girl called Alyson from New York, and was in the process of traversing the nation on the off-chance that I would bump into her again. Having gone from San Francisco to Albuquerque on a hunch (well, actually on a Greyhound) I had finally received a message that she would be in the town of Truth or Consequences in New Mexico. The name conjured images of a Spanish colonial past, tortured locals and Grand Inquisitors. I was delighted to find out that the town had actually renamed itself after a popular radio quiz show in 1950!

Unfortunately, the bus only stopped on the interstate, and it was thus that I found myself walking over three kilometres into town, in 35° Celsius heat, with the punitive weight of my bags upon me — it was far more work than I was physically prepared to undertake given the prevailing conditions. As I rounded the first bend I found renewed hope: an oasis. I stumbled quickly towards the sign that read Sonic Drive-In.

I couldn’t believe it, a fifties-style burger joint with little two-way radios for ordering at each car spot. I dumped all my bags and ordered the first drink I could see: Limeade! After a minute a girl on rollerskates rolled over and handed me a large white polystyrene cup. The content of that cup was so fresh, so cold, so limey and tangy and fizzy and sweet that the experience still gives me cold tingles when I think about it. I picked up my bags, sucking on my limeade, and strode proudly into town, towards the fast-flowing Rio Grande. I soothed my cares away in the hot springs, sang songs into the night and made love in a teepee (yes, this really happened!).

Sonic later proved not to be a chimera, but rather a chain. My brother-in-law loved the cherry limeade there, but the cherry flavour was not so much to my liking. When I made this drink, I had the extreme refreshment of the limeade I tried that day in my mind. Because of my brother-in-law’s predilection, and because the folks at Nisskosher make such a cracking cherry vodka, I decided to try to capture that experience in a cherry version instead.


Quantity Ingredient
60ml nisskosher wiśniówka
30ml sour cherry syrup, (see note)
1-2 limes, chopped
soda water, chilled
1 lime slices, to serve
1 cherry, to serve


  1. Put the cherry vodka, sour cherry syrup and lime into a shaker and muddle until the juice is out of the limes. Make sure you pick juicy limes, if they’re not juicy, use more — remember that you have to quench my extreme thirst and get me to the girl while you’re making it!
  2. Shake the lime and cherry mixture with crushed ice and tip it into a really big glass (480 ml) leaving about 2 cm free at the top. Add very cold and very fizzy soda water to fill the glass and stir it. Garnish with the lime slice and a cherry. One sip and you’re back in the teepee!


  • Sour cherry syrup is available from Eastern European grocers. You will have to try a few of these syrups side by side to find the right one for you as they range from the sublime to the ordinary.
Vodka and Tears
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