North Carolina Cherry Soda Recipe

Any Tar Heel will tell you that Cheerwine is the drink of choice to go with North Carolina barbecue. First made exactly one hundred years ago, this soft-drink is one soda maker’s response to sugar rationing during World War I. Working out of a former whiskey distillery, L.D. Peeler found that he could make a sweet soda with less sugar by using cherry flavoring, and Cheerwine was born.  

The drink gets its name from the cherry syrup’s wine-like color; our version includes all of the cheer but even less sugar than the original, thanks to the natural sweetness of puréed fresh cherries and honey. Just add sparkling water, pour over ice, and it’s the classic match for pulled-pork sliders or just about any summer meal.

North Carolina Cherry Soda

serves 4

Shopping list 
¾ pound fresh cherries
4 tablespoons honey, or more to taste
4 cups (32 ounces) sparkling water

From your pantry


1 Prep and blend the cherry soda base

  • Remove the pits from the cherries.

In a blender, purée the pitted cherries until smooth. 

 2 Make the cherry soda; serve

Set out 4 tall glasses. Into each glass, pour in ⅓ cup cherry base and 1 tablespoon honey, stirring to dissolve the honey. Add more honey to taste. Add 3 to 5 ice cubes to each glass. Top with 1 cup sparkling water and stir to blend. Serve at once.


Nutrition per serving: Calories: 120, Protein: 1g (2% DV), Fiber: 2g (8% DV), Total Fat: 0g (0% DV), Monounsaturated Fat: 0g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0g, Saturated Fat: 0g (0% DV), Cholesterol: 0mg (0% DV), Sodium: 0mg (0% DV), Carbohydrates: 32g (11% DV), Total Sugars: 28g, Added Sugars (Honey): 16g (32% DV). Not a significant source of trans fat.

Bonus recipe—ingredients not included in box.