Cherry Vamp 1.000

Laura Chase de Formigny for The Washington Post; styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Spirits Aug 14, 2019

A nearly zero-proof valentine of sour cherries and bitter chocolate. The “nearly” is because most aromatic bitters are alcoholic infusions, but they’re used in such small doses that many consider them fair game in creating nonalcoholic drinks. That said, if your aim is a completely dry cocktail, this isn’t your drink.

Make Ahead: Simple syrup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Where to Buy: Tart cherry juice is available in many grocery stores. This recipe uses chocolate bitters, which are widely available in good spirits stores and online, but you can substitute Angostura, if need be.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 1 servings

  • For the simple syrup
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • For the drink
  • Ice (preferably one large cube)
  • 2 ounces tart cherry juice
  • 1/4 ounce simple syrup (1/2 ounce, if you prefer a sweeter drink)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chocolate bitters or Angostura bitters
  • 1 to 2 ounces tonic water
  • Maraschino cherries or a star anise pod (optional), for garnish

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Make the simple syrup: Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring just to a boil; once the sugar has dissolved, remove from the heat. The yield is about 1 cup. Cool completely.

Make the drink: Put a large ice cube in a rocks glass. In a mixing glass, stir together the cherry juice, simple syrup and bitters. Pour over the ice cube and top with a generous splash of tonic water. Garnish with a cocktail pick of cherries or a star anise pod.

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Recipe Source

M. Carrie Allan

Tested by M. Carrie Allan.

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