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Not Your Bubbe’s Recipe: Sparkling Sour Cherry Float Cocktails

Seriously, how good does a Sparkling Sour Cherry Float sound? I based this Shavuot cocktail on the Hungarian dish Meggyleves (pronounced meddj-lev-esh), which translates to sour cherry soup. It’s a cold, seasonal dish made from the sour cherries that are available in Hungary in the early summer, which is why it’s often served on Shavuot, with a healthy dollop of sour cream, and sometimes a tipple of wine.

American cherries are plumper and sweeter than Hungarian varieties, but fresh lemon or lime juice will pucker those suckers right up and help achieve the sweet-tart flavor the dish is known for. The cinnamon stick nestled in with the simmering fruit adds a hint of warmth and spice to the bright, rich cherry juice. After removing the cherries, reserve a few to drop into the cocktail for some fruitful last bites, and in reference to the original dish.

Splash in some bubbly with the cherry concentrate, and then because it’s Shavuot, or because it’s summer, or because you are one-eighth Hungarian, plop in a dollop of sour cream, or Greek yogurt if you need the live active cultures, or crème fraiche if you are already cultured. Vanilla ice-cream if you are an iconoclast with a sweet tooth. This recipe is so good, it inspired another one.

Sparkling Sour Cherry Floats
Yields 3-4 cups of liquid (about 6 serves)


2 lbs. fresh cherries, pitted OR 5 cups frozen pitted cherries
4 cups water
¼ -½ cup sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)
2 x 2″ strips lemon or lime peel
1 cinnamon stick
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice or lime juice + 1-2 tbsp. lemon or lime juice to finish off recipe

To Serve:
Champagne, sparkling wine, or seltzer
Reserved cherries (from broth)
Sour cream, Greek yogurt, or crème fraiche
Lemon or lime wedges


1. In a large pot, bring the cherries to a boil with the water, sugar, lemon or lime peel, cinnamon stick, and 2 tbsp. of fresh lemon or lime juice. Cover pot, reduce heat, and allow cherries to simmer for about 30 minutes, until soft and tender.

2. Strain the soup into a large bowl, discarding the peels and cinnamon sticks. Reserve some of the whole cherries for garnish, and use the remainder of the cherries to make White Chocolate Cherry Pudding. If not using immediately, the cherries can be sealed and frozen for later.

3. Allow Meggyleves to cool completely before stirring in extra 1-2 tbsp. lemon or lime juice.

4. To serve: Pour desired amount of chilled Meggyleves concentrate into glasses. Top off with champagne or seltzer. Drop in a few of the reserved cherries, then add a scoop of crème fraiche, sour cream, or Greek yogurt. Drizzle in some extra lemon/lime juice if you’d like to enhance the tartness.

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