After I bought my first pint of sour cherries at the market this summer, I took them home, pitted them in the afternoon sunlight, and mashed them into one of the more delicious cocktails I've enjoyed all season. I'd been warned that the sour cherry season was a short one, but as I sipped my cocktail that evening, I had enough hubris to believe they'd last all summer long. Wrong.
By the time I went back to the market for more, the season was over. Happily, there are folks around who make it their business to help short seasons last just a little bit longer. Cecil & Merl Cherry Bitters out of Brooklyn ensure that the lazier among us aren't left cheerless—or, cherry-less, after sour cherry season has come and gone.
Deborah Williamson and Bryan Calvert, who own the Prospect Heights restaurant James, started a line of cheesecakes and bitters named after their respective grandfathers, Cecil and Merl. They've passed along a recipe for a cocktail that lets you enjoy the short season all year long. For a full list of ingredients and step-by-step instructions, see below.
Above: Cecil & Merl Cherry Bitters produced in small batches in Brooklyn; $26.
Above: Mix five dashes of bitters with an ounce of lime juice, 2 ounces of gin, and a barspoon full of simple syrup. I mixed my syrup from brown sugar for a deeper flavor. For a chamomile-flavored simple syrup, see Summer Goddess Tea with Chamomile Simple Syrup.
Above: Shake ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker. A similar Vintage Hotel Silver Channel Cocktail Shaker is $59 from Restoration Hardware.
Above: Top with soda water. I used Q Club Soda, available on Amazon; $16.19 for eight bottles.
Garnished with a lime wheel or two, the Sour Cherry Rickey makes a refreshing cocktail in any season.
Sour Cherry Rickey
- 2 ounces gin
- 1 ounce lime juice
- Barspoon simple syrup
- 5 dashes Cherry Bitters
Combine ingredients in shaker tin and shake with vigor. Strain into collins glass and top with soda. Garnish with a lime wheel.
For more of our favorite evening refreshers, see our other Cocktail Recipes.