Instead of the fluorescent red cocktail garnish, fresh cherries take center stage in this refreshing sipper. Macerating the cherries in sugar first helps to soften their thick skins and release their juices, which become gorgeously syrupy in the pan. Make the basil- and ginger-infused syrup up to a week ahead and refrigerate. Leave out the vodka for a virgin beverage, or try a floral gin if you’re not a vodka fan. If fresh cherries are unavailable, try frozen sweet cherries. For a little more flair in each glass, garnish with a lemon wedge and some extra fresh cherries in addition to the basil sprigs.
Combine 1 1/2 cups cherries and sugar in a small saucepan; let stand 10 minutes or until juices have released, stirring occasionally. Place pan over medium-high. Add 1 cup water, 6 basil sprigs, and ginger to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes or until sugar dissolves and cherries have broken down. Remove pan from heat. Gently mash cherry mixture with a potato masher or a fork. Let stand 30 minutes at room temperature.
Strain cherry mixture through a mesh sieve over a large pitcher; discard solids. Add remaining 3 cups water, lemon juice, and vodka to pitcher; stir gently to combine. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup fresh cherries. Add seltzer water to pitcher just before serving. Pour about 1 cup cherry mixture into each of 8 ice-filled glasses. Garnish each glass with a small basil sprig.