Heering Cherry Liqueur, $26.99
The back story
There are a number of drinks we associate with the holiday season, from egg nog to mulled wine, but what about Hanukkah? The Jewish festival of lights, which commences this year on Sunday evening and runs through Dec. 6, is most known for fried foods, particularly potato pancakes (or latkes, as they’re called), though not necessarily anything boozy.
But if there was a potential candidate, we’d nominate Heering Cherry Liqueur, a sweet sip that has been around for well more than a century and is now produced by De Kuyper Royal Distillers, a Dutch company. On the surface, it may seem like there’s nothing that logically connects Jewish culture and this alcoholic concoction, but let us explain.
Heering has been a favorite in Jewish homes over the years, though it’s largely associated with older generations. It’s hard to say why the tradition evolved, but evolve it did. David Rosengarten, the food writer and former Food Network host, explained it best when he once wrote about his parents and their love of the liqueur: “Like so many Old World Jews, they’d long for a lick of ‘schnapps’ after dinner. And that’s when the deep-red stuff with the natural cherry flavor would often come out and moisten the miniature cut-glass crystal.”
The sip also makes a memorable appearance in “Crossing Delancey,” the 1988 comedy, starring Amy Irving and Peter Riegert, that’s often been described as the Jewish equivalent of “Moonstruck.”
The De Kuyper team has no broad explanation for the spirit’s Jewish connection, but it does note that cherry Heering is kosher-certified.
Of course, Heering has a history much larger than its Jewish story. The spirit is named after one Peter F. Heering, a Danish businessman who founded his booze brand in 1818, though it was later sold to De Kuyper. The cherry liqueur eventually caught on as a global sensation and became a favorite of royalty (De Kuyper notes that the brand is a purveyor to Queen Elizabeth II). The sip also became a key ingredients in many a cocktail — most notably, the Singapore Sling — and has trended in recent years as a favorite of modern mixologists.
What we think about it
There’s a reason why Heering’s cherry concoction has endured: It’s the real deal when it comes to a fruity liqueur — yes, it’s super-sweet, but it’s also bursting with natural fruit flavor (the De Kuyper team notes that it’s made with Danish-sourced cherries and a blend of spices). As is the case with a lot of liqueurs, it isn’t something you consume in large quantities — but it’s indeed worth sipping as an after-dinner drink.
How to enjoy it
We like cherry Heering straight as described above — it’s a great way to end a night on a literal sweet note. But it does make a fine addition to a cocktail, be it a Singapore Sling or even something as simple as what the De Kuyper team calls a Heering Cola (four ounces cola with two ounces of the cherry liqueur). And if you’re celebrating Hanukkah, enjoy it any way you like during the eight-night festival. Happy holiday!