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Sonic-Inspired Diet Cherry Limeade Cocktail

One of my favorite parts of a Midwest summer was driving up to the Sonic drive-thru during their happy hour, and ordering a diet cherry limeade. 

For two hours in the afternoon (2-4 p.m.!), I knew I had a window to roll up and order my favorite summer beverage for half off. The sweet cherry limeade was the perfect way to quench my thirst on a hot summer day, whether I was laying by the pool, going to work (which also happened to be at a pool) or headed to an outdoor party. 

Because the drink is diet, I didn't feel bad about indulging in one pretty much every day (despite that they were chock-full of maraschino cherries, and of course artificial sweetener). Now that I live in New York City, Sonics are few and far between. In an effort to quench my thirst and indulge in a bit of nostalgia, I made my own grown-up version of the classic summer treat.



I spiked my cherry limeade with Skinnygirl White Cherry Vodka, still keeping the drink diet. I also used some homemade sparkling limeade (similar to the homemade sparkling lemonade I whipped up for this Sparkling Cucumber Lemonade cocktail). I added in a small spoonful of grenadine and some maraschino cherries, and it tasted like those old, hot summer days. I may not have months of time off anymore, but I can still enjoy an adult summer beverage. 



You can always substitute my homemade diet sparkling limeade for a pre-made version, such as the one that's sold at Trader Joe's, or San Pellegrino. Just be mindful of the extra calories and sugar those pack. 


For the Diet Sparkling Limeade

  • 12 ounces club soda
  • 4 ounces filtered water
  • Juice of two fresh-squeezed limes
  • 4 packets of sweetener (I used powedered Stevia)
  • 1 tablespoon simple syrup (optional for a sweeter beverage)

For the Rest of the Cocktail

  • 4.5 ounces cherry vodka (I used Skinnygirl White Cherry Vodka)
  • Jar of maraschino cherries
  • 2 lime wedges, for garnish

Start by making your diet sparkling limeade. Mix the club soda, filtered water, lime juice, sweetener and simple syrup together in the body of a cocktail shaker. 

Dip a spoon in the jar of maraschino cherries, and retrieve 1 tablespoon of the cherry juice. (You can always add more for a sweeter beverage). Pour in jiggers of vodka. 

Stir, don't shake the cocktail. When finished, strain into two glasses filled with ice. Garnish with lime wedge, and as many maraschino cherries as you want. The more, the better! 

Makes: 2 cocktails

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