Makes 2 cups.
Note: The syrup recipe and most of the serving suggestions are from “Make Your Own Soda: Syrup Recipes for All-Natural Pops, Floats, Cocktails and More,” by Anton Nocito (Clarkson Potter, $14.99).
• 2 quarts fresh sour cherries, pitted
• 2 c. sugar
• Juice of 1/2 lemon
In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, combine the cherries, sugar and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes. Strain the syrup through a fine-mesh strainer and discard the fruit solids. Store the syrup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to seven days. Pour over ice cream or stir into milk.
Cherry soda: Fill a tall glass with ice. Add 3 tablespoons syrup and add a few dashes citric acid solution or acid phosphate. Top with seltzer and mix gently.
Cherry cream soda: Fill a tall glass with ice. Add in 3 tablespoons syrup, pour in seltzer until the glass is almost full. Stir. Top with 3 tablespoons milk and serve.
Cherry lassi: Add 3 tablespoons yogurt to a pint glass. Stir until smooth. Add 3 tablespoons cherry syrup and stir until syrup and yogurt are incorporated. Fill three-quarters full with water, stir and top with ice.
Bourbon and cherry chocolate: Add 1 3/4 ounces Maker’s Mark bourbon, 1 tablespoon cherry syrup and dash of chocolate bitters to a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice. Shake and strain over fresh ice cubes or into a rocks glass, or serve neat in a martini glass.
Cherry ice cream soda: Fill a tall glass with ice. Add 3 tablespoons syrup. Add enough seltzer until the glass is two-thirds full, stirring briskly. Add 1 scoop vanilla ice cream, then top with more seltzer, taking care that it doesn’t run over.
Note: Find tamarind paste at Asian markets. From “Mediterranean Cooking,” by the Culinary Institute of America and by Lynne Gigliotti.
• 5 c. water
• 1 c. tamarind paste (see Note)