2 1/2 cups frozen dark cherries (pitted and finely chopped) 1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar 1/8 tsp pure vanilla extract club soda or seltzer (chilled) vanilla ice cream whole thawed frozen pitted cherries (for serving)
For the syrup:
Stir together the chopped cherries, sugar, pepper, salt, and 3/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to an active simmer over medium heat and cook until it has a thick syrup consistency, about 15 minutes. Strain the syrup through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl, pressing gently but firmly on the solids and scraping the bottom of the strainer to extract as much syrup as possible; discard the solids.
Stir in the vanilla and let cool completely, 15 to 20 minutes. Makes about 2/3 cup.
To make the float:
Add 2 tablespoons syrup to an 8 ounce glass and top with 1/2 cup chilled club soda. Add in a scoop of ice cream and garnish with a couple of whole cherries.
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