This recipe for Cherry Lime Basil Soda has no business being here. Yet, that is. I mean, there are a half dozen other recipes I had scheduled to share before this guy came along, and yet, here we are talking about it. This is one of the things I love most about having my own site. I can move around the puzzle pieces as I see fit, and when it comes to this Cherry Lime Basil Soda, I couldn’t let one more minute pass without sharing it.
Cherries haven’t arrived at our farmers’ markets yet. Frankly, the season is so precarious here, with our northeast weather (my mind is already back in upstate mode). After the crazy frost that hit the Hudson Valley in early April two months ago, who even knows if we’ll get much of a cherry season (you can read about the how and why here). So, all this is to say that when I noticed cherries from California at Whole Foods a couple of weeks ago, I decided to start indulging in them.
We’ ve mostly been eating them straight from the bowl. Then this idea for a cherry syrup came to mind, but this isn’t a syrup exactly. The base for this soda is more a concentrated cherry juice. I added lime to brighten the flavors a bit. The basil addition was inspired by a basil lemonade I’d had a few days before. The juice is slightly sweetened with simple syrup. You can use agave or even maple syrup if you want a refined sugar free alternative. Just start with less than the amount of simple syrup listed in the recipe, as those sweeteners tend to be, well, sweeter than simple syrup.
On its own, the cherry lime juice is incredible. Cram a glass full of ice, and pour the juice over it. Done. Only problem is the straining process to produce a smooth juice means you lose part of your haul. I must confess, I tossed the remaining pulp once all the juice had been extracted. Had I not been in “moving, let’s get rid of everything mode”, I would’ve found a creative use for it. This is all to say that 2 cups of cherries results in just 1 cup of juice—that’s a pretty darn expensive, albeit delicious, glass of juice. I’ll let you make that judgement call.
As for me, I decided to cut the juice with some seltzer for a light, not too sweet, summer soda. Can we please agree that when you make this, you’re going to use a freshly opened bottle of seltzer? There’s nothing worse than flat soda water. Okay, well, there are many things worse—just not in the context of this recipe for Cherry Lime Basil Soda.
Speaking of which, let’s talk about the basil. I wanted to lightly infuse the flavor—more along the lines of essence of basil. To achieve this, I added the basil to the bottom of the glass, then topped it with ice cubes. I then gave the glass a few shakes to bruise the basil leaf, in turn releasing some it’s flavor.
Now, don’t say I told you this because we’re talking about an innocently non-alcoholic, homemade soda here. But…if you were to add a splash of gin, I’m betting it would taste mighty fine, especially on a hot summer night.
Cherry Lime Basil Soda
- 2 cups (132 grams) fresh cherries, pitted
- 2 freshly squeezed juicy limes
- ¼ cup simple syrup
- 4 basil leaves
- Freshly opened bottle of seltzer
- Add the cherries, lime juice, and simple syrup to a blender. Blend until very smooth.
- Set a strainer over a jar, and pour the cherry mixture through. You can use a spoon to stir it around in the strainer, but don’t press the pulp, down. You should about 1 cup of cherry lime juice when you’re done.
- Set up 4 rocks glasses. Add a basil leaf to the bottom of each one, then fill with ice. Give the glass a few shakes to bruise the basil, and release its essence.
- Pour a ½ cup of seltzer into each glass. Add ¼ cup of cherry juice. Stir gently to mix the soda. Serve immediately.