Fresh produce makes me giddy. I worked at the organic farm on campus while in college up in San Luis Obispo, and I mark that as the time that I both taught myself to cook, and started to give a second thought to what I was putting in my body. Our wage came in the form of a CSA basket, and every week there was some new type of sprout or a unique type of mushroom. It's fascinating to me - the variety, nutrition and flavors of produce. That fascination can bring a fury of emotions when I read articles on food politics or watch things like Food Inc. or Jaime Oliver's Food Revolution. You matter. What you eat matters. Believe it.

The combination here is a result of last weekends farmers market visit. I use the lemon thyme from my herb garden all the time, but this lemon basil we came across was the most fragrant thing I've ever smelled - only soft notes of traditional basil, more of a lemongrass scent. Hugh keeps commenting on the amazing smell, and he usually saves those compliments for bacon, caramelized onions or double chocolate chip banana bread.

I also happen to be collecting rainier cherries, grabbing them at every trip to the market, as their season is short. I put these two great finds together in a wheat berry salad with a bit of gorgonzola, but this cocktail is the stunning outcome I wanted to share with you. So pretty! I love pretty drinks. Especially pretty drinks that aren't super sweet, full of simple syrup and soda (anyone? memories of their 21st birthday? maybe something with a marschino cherry? or for my sister, 'dirty bananas,' family vacation in Jamaica circa 2008?). All to say, this is just clean and light and springy and I hope you find a reason to treat yourself to a pretty cocktail. Cheers.undefined

Cherries have been on the dirty dozen list, as they are challenging to grow without pesticides. Purchase organic if you can, or be sure to clean them well.
The end result here has some fibrous pieces and bits of turbinado in the glass, it adds character. You could pour it through a mesh strainer if that bothers you.

8 Rainier Cherries
Few Leaves of Lemon Basil
2 tsp. Turbinado Sugar*
2 oz. Vodka
Crushed Ice
Sparkling Waterundefined

1. Pit and halve the cherries. Put the cherries, lemon basil and turbinado in a glass (or pitcher if making more than one), and muddle it with a muddling tool, or the bottom of a wooden spoon. Get aggressive, you need to get as much juice out of the cherries as possible.
2. Fill a glass with 3/4 full with crushed ice. Add the vodka and muddled cherry mix and fill the rest of the glass with sparkling water.
* I find that rainier cherries aren't quite as sweet as bing cherries, making this drink quite light. If you like a little more tart or sweet flavor, add a splash of cherry juice to the glass.undefined

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Reader Comments (49)

OH YUM! that drink looks so delicious! I've actually never had a cocktail w/ cherries, but they're one of my favorite things.

this flavor combination has my taste-buds doing cartwheels.... i think i've found my new summer cocktail!

June 3, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjordan

Wow ... is all I can say. Looks like I will be making this this weekend -- or at least the first sunny weekend of the season which I'm hoping will occur in San Francisco any. day. now. Cheers to late spring!

June 3, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternicole

Oh man, these sound so, so good. Way better than the nastay cocktails I "enjoyed" down at the bars last night!

June 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLauren @ WWoB

Oh this looks so light and refreshing!! Lemon basil rocks! :) Must try this.

June 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterYumi

oh man this looks amazing and so tasty. must make this!

June 3, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermiss alix

I totally have the same philosopy. Happy veggies make a happy person! I'd love to have the chance to work on a farm. A CSA box would be the best wage ever!

oooh, oooh, ooooooh! if this is anywhere near as delicious as it is pretty, i'm sold. i shall be stopping by the liquor store & whole foods on the way home to purchase the necessities :o) your chai is my go-to only makes sense that you would provide the perfect fruity, clean refreshment for summer, too. sara, you are just the best. THANK YOU for what you do! oh, and payment in fresh, peak veggies...doesn't get much better than that!

June 3, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterheather

Pics are just beautiful!

beautiful fresh photos. no cherries yet at the Farmers' Markets in Toronto but I'll keep this filed!

June 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKatlin R

my goodness, this looks absolutely delicious! My friends and I are always on the hunt for delicious cocktails that wont leave us feeling like the day after my 18th birthday (im canadian). This will surely be going into the rotation!

June 3, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbianca

I so agree with what you said and it is hard to believe there are still so many people out there who do not care the slightest what goes into their bodies. It's sad, but fortunately there are also those who do care and try to make a difference in other people's lives as well, like Jamie!

What a beautiful drink this is, those colours make me think of summer!

June 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMaria @ Scandifoodie

Oh, yes, nothing better than a cocktail with fresh seasonal fruit and herbs! Last summer I was grooving on my purple crush - blueberries + fresh basil + gin. So refreshing.

June 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

yes! it's rainier cherry season! I totally forgot until I read this post ... must find rainier cherries ASAP. :)

June 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJacqui

I love that this makes you giddy - precious photos and a lovely treat.

June 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBelinda @zomppa

I never knew what these cherries were called. Sprinkle in some fresh basil flowers. They usually taste the same as the herb, only they look nicer. Problem is that when the herb is flowering, the herb itself doesn't taste that great...

I always love walking around in markets and picking up fresh produce. I get sad during the winter because there's only so much squash I can have.

Thanks for the post!

June 3, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterclaypotclub

Sophisticated, and simple. Just perfect. I've been on a cherry kick myself lately. Shaun's last day of work was today before he goes full freelance, this is a perfect way to celebrate. :)

June 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKelsey

yum! i will definitely have to make this over the weekend. have a good one! :)

June 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrittany

I love everything about this drink! Happily, there is lime basil growing away in a pot on my patio, just waiting to be immersed in vodka with cherries and sparkling water. Can't wait!

June 3, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersweetsugarbean

How fun! I worked on an organic farm in grad school and was paid in daily CSAs, too! (Our daily CSAs were much smaller than your weekly CSA, of course). But it was so fun to spend the whole day on the farm, snacking on fruit for breakfast, making a salad from the fields for lunch and bringing home whatever tempted you the most for dinner. Ah, those were the days. Well, they were only 2 years ago, but I still think of them tending my own organic plot :) I hope you share your wheatberry salad recipe too! We're overflowing with Rainiers here in Nor-Cal.

June 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDessertForTwo

That looks SO delicious. (And beautifully shot, as always!)

June 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

We have a long and pretty spectacular Rainier cherry season up here and we also have a summer party every July. I'm thinking that this will be our cocktail of choice at that party. Thanks for the inspiration Sara!

June 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDana

Beautiful post! true words and absolutely lovely photos - cherries have never looked so pretty.

I never think of cherries for a drink, but this looks wonderful. Refreshing and so pretty!

June 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKatie@Cozydelicious

Oh yes. Can't wait to try this out on the patio!

June 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

This is one of the most beautiful and unique cocktails I've seen! I am not creative at all when it comes to drinks so I thank you for your inspiration Sara!

June 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCoco

i'm a bit in love with that last photo, the light through the glass and the leaves of lemon basil - it's the very image of everything refreshing.

June 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertara

This look very refreshing. I love the pictures as always.

June 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSherilyn Palmer

Your blog is so beautiful to read.

June 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

I've been scoping out the cherry pitter possibilities all week! Tis the season, and I am so excited for loads of cherries this summer.

that looks so amazing! i think we're past our cherry season but i'm definitely keeping it in mind for perhaps a christmas cocktail idea...!

June 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrodie

[...] This sounds like the perfect summer drink. [...]

Just discovered your blog... and I love it :) Definitely going to follow this.

June 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKrystal

Ooooo Rainier cherries ARE THE YUMMIEST! I was so excited when I recently moved up to Vancouver,Wa from California, because of these cherries! I eat them till I am sick, and at over $5 a pound down in Ca, the habit got expensive, lol. I love that used these sweet delights, and it is so pretty too, love it!

June 15, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterfabiola@notjustbaked

i love the colors! perfect summer drink!

June 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCM

[...] Local Kitchen Strawberry Vodka and Strawberry Vodka Lemonade from Washington’s Green Grocer Rainier Cherry Muddler from Sprouted Kitchen Small Batch Strawberry Vanilla Jam from Food in Jars Strawberry Freezer Jam with Moscato from [...]

Oh my lord. Just oh my lord.

June 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAllie

What!! This is insane. How did I miss it!

p.s. loved this line, "You matter. What you eat matters. Believe it. " It could easily become a food mantra and slogan. Can I borrow it?

June 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrenda

This makes me very happy. :)

I have cherries in my fridge and a lemon basil plant in my backyard dying to be used. Done and done!

June 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlexandra

This sounds like such a refreshing cocktail! I have some farmer's market cherries in my fridge now waiting to become bourbon soaked cherries, but may have to snag a few for one or two of these.

(PS--spent time in Santa Maria, CA right after college and San Luis Obisbo was/still is one of my favorite places.)

June 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

[...] kick it off with a refreshing Rainier cherry muddle, brightened with lemon basil, to whet our guests’ whistles. Since summer’s steaming up, [...]

[...] When you squash them together (grafting) you get the plump, white, tasty Rainier cherry.  The Sprouted Kitchen uses Rainier’s for a cooling cocktail, but if you can’t find Ranier’s you could [...]

Making this tonight for friends! I think I'll have to use mint, since mine is taking over my herb pots.

July 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

[...] Make a cherry cocktail! [...]

Great idea! Would you mind sharing where you purchased the pit remover or what brand it is?

August 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJean

@Jean - I got it from Williams-Sonoma years ago. It looks like they carry a different one now, but I have had good luck with Oxo, and trust the products they carry, so you could go with that!

August 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSara

love cherries, esp. Napoleon. Bright idea. If I can save some I'll try this cocktail. By the way the tool you have to take the stone is great! thks for the lovely pics & recipe

July 13, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdao

Absolutely gorgeous photos. I'm pretty much in love with Rainier cherries (and cocktails) so this REALLY hits the spot for me.

July 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTodd @ HonestlyYUM

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