The Story Behind The Homemade Fresh Bourbon Cherry Coke

For many people, the coming of fall means one thing: football. This also means it’s time to start planning for the best part of football season, which is of course tailgating. To kick off the season I thought I’d put a spin on a cocktail that is ubiquitous at tailgates across the south, the bourbon and coke.

Growing up in North Carolina, it’s basically mandatory to enjoy a bourbon every once and a while mixed with a little coke. But this traditional drink is pretty simple, so I wanted to give it a bit of an upgrade. I’ve always loved Cherry Coke, but the real thing can be overly sweet and syrupy. Instead, I decided to take a bottle of Mexican coke – which is sweetened with sugar instead of corn syrup – and mix in fresh cherries. This cherry coke is so much better than the pre-made stuff because the fresh cherries add another dimension of flavor to what is a very simple cocktail.

This cocktail is incredibly easy to make in advance and bring to the tailgate. Simply pitt all the cherries ahead of time and place them in a mason jar with bourbon, pack some bottles of coke, and you are all set for the perfect cookout or tailgate. Letting the cherries sit in the bourbon for a bit helps to marry the flavors and the infuse the bourbon with all the awesome fresh cherry flavor.

This cocktail is perfect for Saturdays or Sundays in the fall. And you just need 3 ingredients to get the party started.


  • 4.5 ounces of Bourbon
  • 12-pitted cherries, plus more for garnish
  • 9 ounces of Coca-Cola
  • 2 cups of ice


  1. Fill a standard mason jar with bourbon and cherries prior to the party and let the ingredients sit together for at least an hour.
  2. Divide the ice between three serving glasses and then pour equal amounts of your bourbon cherry mixture into each, topping off with coke.
  3. Garnish cocktail with whole cherries.

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Updated: 2020-04-23

The Homemade Fresh Bourbon Cherry Coke Recipe