TRAVERSE CITY — Toast the National Cherry Festival with a cherry drink.
This week, especially, cherries are everywhere and in everything from pies to salads. Adding a kick of cherry to a cock- or mock-tail is one more way to enjoy a favorite local fruit. Spirit and cocktail makers have found sophisticated ways to feature cherries in drinks. The result is cherry cheer that goes beyond the typical sweet-bomb maraschino garnish.
Grand Traverse Distillery makes a cherry-flavored vodka that works with cocktail mixers or on its own. Featuring cherries here in the cherry capital was natural, said George Wertman, general manager and distiller.
"You've got to do cherries. That's the law," he said.
The vodka has a slight cherry scent and features a touch of cocoa.
At the downtown Traverse City restaurant Poppycock's, Beverage and Entertainment Manager John Lohner frequently changes up the drink menu. He will feature a cherry mojito and an adult cherry lemonade, both using local cherries.
The fruit is easy to play around with when concocting drinks, Lohner said.
"I can definitely tinker with them," he said.
He plans to pick up some cherries at the farmers market and muddle them with mint and lime for a mojito with "a nice, crisp refreshing" taste "with a bit of tartness." The lemonade starts with a cherry vodka and pureed cherries marinated with lemonade.
For other cherry drink ideas, the late local author Lori Hall Steele's "Sweet and Snappy Cherry Drinks: The Ultimate Guide to Cherry Cocktails and Non-Alcoholic Beverages" is packed with suggestions. Or try mixing up one of the following drinks at home.
Grand Traverse Distillery's cherry-flavored vodka is featured in this grown-up ice cream concoction from the distillery and its customers. General Manager George Wertman called the frosty mix "something that you can't say 'no' to" and "definitely a fun one to have in the summer."