2 quarts fresh, sour cherries, pitted
2 cups sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the cherries, sugar and lemon juice; bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes. Strain syrup through a fine-mesh strainer and discard fruit solids. Store syrup in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to 7 days. Pour over ice cream or stir into milk. Makes 2 cups syrup.

VARIATIONS: 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 3 tablespoons syrup, pour in seltzer until 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 a 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 glass is two-thirds full, stirring briskly. Add 1 scoop vanilla ice cream, then top with more seltzer, taking care it doesn't run over.

— Recipe from "Make Your Own Soda: Syrup Recipes for All-Natural Pops, Floats, Cocktails and More," by Anton Nocito.