The back story

There are many drinks that we associate with holidays, including egg nog and mulled wine. But what about Hanukkah. The Jewish Festival of Lights, which begins this Sunday night and continues through Dec. 6, is best known for its fried food, especially potato pancakes or latkes.

We would nominate Heering Cherry Liqueur if we had to choose. This sweet drink has been around for more than 100 years and is produced now by De Kuyper Royal Distillers. It’s a Dutch company. It may appear that there is nothing that connects Jewish culture to this alcoholic concoction. But let’s explain.

Heering is a Jewish tradition that has been enjoyed in Jewish homes for many years. However, it is mainly associated with older generations. Although it’s difficult to explain why this tradition developed, it evolved. David Rosengarten, a food writer and former host of Food Network, best described it in a piece he wrote about his parents’ love for the liqueur. “Like many Old World Jews they would long for a lick after dinner. The deep-red stuff with natural cherry flavor would often appear and moisten the cut-glass crystal.

The sip makes a memorable appearance also in “Crossing Delancey,” a 1988 comedy starring Amy Irving & Peter Riegert that has been often referred to as the Jewish equivalent to “Moonstruck.”

Although the De Kuyper team doesn’t have a clear explanation for why this spirit is Jewish, it does mention that cherry Heering has been certified kosher.

Heering’s history is much more than just its Jewish one. Peter F. Heering was a Danish businessman who established his brand of booze in 1818. However, it was later sold by De Kuyper. The global success of cherry liqueur was a result. It became a favourite among royalty. De Kuyper also notes that the brand is a purveyor for Queen Elizabeth II. In recent years, modern mixologists have been embracing the sip as a popular ingredient in many cocktails.

How we think about it

Heering’s cherry concoction is a classic. It’s not only super-sweet but also full of natural fruit flavors (the De Kuyper team points out that it’s made from Danish-sourced cherries and a combination of spices). It’s not something you should consume in large quantities, as is the case for many liqueurs. However, it’s worth having after-dinner drinks.

How to enjoy it

Cherry Heering is a delicious way to end your night. It can be added to cocktails, such as a Singapore Sling, or even a simple cocktail like the De Kuyper team’s Heering Cola (4 ounces cola and 2 ounces cherry liqueur). If you are celebrating Hanukkah you can enjoy it in any way you want during the eight-night festival. Happy holidays!

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