Place the cherries in a saucepan off the stove, pour the sugar over the top and let them sit for 2 hours. Add the water, and stir to mix the cherries, sugar and water together until the sugar dissolves.
Bring the cherry mixture to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain liquid into another pan, pressing cherries with a spoon to extract all the liquid, and discard the cherries. Simmer the liquid over low heat until it is syrupy and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and let cool. Pour syrup in a jar and store in the refrigerator.
To serve, place 1 to 2 tablespoons of syrup in each glass, fill glasses with chilled sparkling water and stir to mix.
c.1997, M.S. Milliken & S. Feniger, all rights reserved