When you start researching Jews and alcohol, you run across one name again and again: Heering Cherry Liqueur. "'A little schnapps' to my grandmother and greataunt Mary meant a tiny crystal cordial glass filled with Cherry Heering," wrote Jayne Cohen in "Cooking for Jewish New Year." "A well-stocked bar must include soda, caffeine-free soda, diet soda, club soda, Creme de Cacao, Cherry Heering and Harvey's Bristol Cream," wrote Molly Katz in "Jewish as a Second Language." Jewish authors talk about growing up with it, and loving it, including Isaac Asimov, Elizabeth Ehrlich, and Sonia Pilcer. It seems like there was a time when no American Jewish liquor cabinet was complete without the Danish liqueur.
It helped that Heering has long been Kosher, and smartly marketed itself directly at Jews. And although the drink is sweet, it isn't cloying, and comes by its thick cherry flavor naturally, making it a terrific dessert drink. Better still, unlike the notoriously hard-to-mix Slivovitz, Cherry Heering is a tried-and-true cocktail ingredient, with two classic cocktails that feature the liqueur: the tropical Singapore Sling and the and the Scotch-based Blood and Sand.
So this was a liqueur that could be drunk as an after-dinner shot in the kitchen by your grandparents and mixed into cocktails in the basement rumpus room by your groovy parents.
This makes it a must-have for the Jewish bar, especially as their are a wealth of Heering cocktails with names that seem appropriate: There is, as an example, the Red Russian, which is just vodka and Heering, or the Heering White Russian, which is the same drink with cream or milk added.
Cherry Heering also mixes well with Coca Cola, creating an alcoholic cherry Coke. This may not seem like an especially Jewish drink, unless you've been to a delicatessen and seen how many Jews drink cherry Coke with their meat dishes. In fact, I feel this mixture needs a name, and "Heering cherry Coke" doesn't do it for me, so I'm going to call it the Wilensky, after the Canadian lunch counter featured in " The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz." The place is apparently somewhat famous for their fountain-made cherry Cokes.
One last thing: I should share the Yiddish word for "cherry," in case an inspired bartender concocts an especially Jewish Heering cocktail. It's "karsh," and I have a cocktail name to recommend, but no cocktail to affix it to: Karsh my Mellow.
Have at it.