My husband grew up drinking himself silly with sharbat’e albaloo, which consists of a tablespoon or two of this cherry syrup stirred into a cup of cold water. I sometimes close my eyes and can imagine him, as a child, with his rosy plump cheeks and a sharbat mustache painted on his face; running wild through his grandfather’s bach (garden) in Shiraz…. My kids do the same, but in our front yard.
The cherry syrup that goes into albaloo as well as other spritzers is not only delicious but also beautiful. When serving grown-ups, I tend to mix it at a slightly stiffer ratio of 3 parts water to 1 part syrup along with some ice cubes to keep it chilled.–Reyna Sinmegar
LC Sharbat’e Alba What? Note
Never mind the name. Just drink up. The cherry syrup goes well not just with cold water but seltzer or, as you can imagine, sparkling wine of any sort as well as sturdier mixers such as vodka. Vary the proportion of syrup to water or wine or spirits according to personal preference, or allow guests to help themselves. A wedge of lime not only makes a vibrant garnish, but a tart little counterpoint to the syrup’s sweetness, so instruct guests to squeeze it into the cherry spritzer prior to sipping.
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup fresh sweet cherries (not sour cherries), unpitted
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from about 4 limes), more if you prefer a tarter syrup
- Lime slices or cherries for garnish
- Cold water, seltzer, or sparkling wine
- Ice (optional)
- To make the cherry syrup, combine the water and sugar together in a 4-quart saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally.
- Place the cherries in a sachet and close the top. If you do not have these ready-made sachets (much like coffee bags), you can use cheesecloth. Or omit the bundling step and simply strain the cherries later.
- When the sugar has dissolved, add the cherries and lime juice, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered, until you have a pale, cherry-infused syrup, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Remove the cherry sachet or strain the mixture, squeezing the juices from the sachet into the saucepan or pressing on the solids in the strainer with the back of a spoon. Store the syrup in a glass jar at room temperature or in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- To make a cherry spritzer, dilute the syrup with water, seltzer, or sparkling wine, using a rough ratio of 3 parts water or wine to 1 part syrup. Serve over ice, if desired.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
What a delightful cool summer drink! I made the syrup using lemon juice instead of lime juice since limes are very hard to come by in Israel and only available for a very short season. Nevertheless, it was delicious. The recipe for the syrup makes much more than you’ll need for one glass of Sharbat’e Albaloo but never fear, you’ll use it all and find yourself making more. Cherries have just come into season here so it was the perfect time for me to try this recipe. I suggest making the syrup and keeping it in the refrigerator to have on hand whenever you want a delicious cold drink. I cooked the cherries in the syrup and then drained them in a colander lined with a coffee filter. I also served it to my adult friends with a shot of vodka in it and they loved it. I think I am also going to try making this syrup with Splenda to see how it tastes.
I thought this would be a hit, and so I made a double batch of the syrup—a good decision! It made no difference that my homemade cheesecloth cherry sachet fell apart and some of the cherries came out into the syrup during cooking. In fact, I wonder if that sachet is necessary at all? When I make this again, I think I’ll skip the sachet entirely! My syrup was a robust pink color, not light at all, and lightened to a pretty rosy pink when diluted. I used the ratio specified of three parts water to one part syrup, and that was fine for some, a bit too strong for others, but would likely have been perfect if served over ice. I felt it was not too strong, but a bit too sweet, as did several others, so the lime slices were essential not only visually as a garnish but also squeezed into the glasses for additional sour flavor. I would not dilute too much, though, as the Sharbat’e Albaloo recipe specifies, as both the flavor and the color would become too subtle. I used my Iranian housemate as a taste tester for the dilution strength, and he thought it was perfect at the specified ratio of three parts water to one part syrup, not a bit too strong. This would make an excellent nonalcoholic beverage at a cocktail party or summer garden party or barbeque, especially if mixed with seltzer.
This recipe is as easy and delicious as it reads. Very simple basic ingredients. The color of the end product is truly beautiful. I used it as a flavor enhancer for water, as well as Prosecco. Stunning! Also really good drizzled on plain Greek yogurt. Next time I would use less sugar, as I really like tart flavours. However, nothing a squeeze of fresh lime juice couldn’t fix.
We buy syrups to use with our water machine all the time. Since cherries are in season, it’s nice to make it myself rather than buying from the store. The flavor is just a bit gentler and the color is clearly natural. This was really nicely sweet but not too cloyingly sweet. I like the 3:1 proportion. The proportion for the Sharbat’e Alboo is a bit weaker but still good (and it’s actually a range which gives the impression that one should tailor the flavor). I would add more lime juice or maybe reduce the water a little to add more lime.
Obviously this recipe differs with the flavor of the cherries. They happen to be fab at the moment. But very expensive. Tried the recipe several times, and personally prefer a little less sweetness. Loved it with fizzy water but needed to add a reasonable quantity to give it a kick.
Cherry-lime Italian sodas have been my favorite for a long time. I’ve even been making my own syrup for a couple of years, but I always use sour cherries, so I was intrigued to see how the recipe would work with sweet cherries. This recipe makes a sweeter, milder syrup than I’m used to. The syrup is good, but the lime is really important, and I’d even use more in the future. I thought it was just okay with plain water and good with either soda water or gin and soda water.
Originally published July 13, 2011