Cherry Heering recently celebrated its 200th birthday in 2018. Yet, it’s still all natural, using both sweet black cherries and botanicals to create a rich syrupy cherry flavor.


How it's made


This deep red liqueur is produced by soaking lightly crushed sweet Danish cherries and a secret blend of spices in a neutral grain spirit. It is then matured in a cask for up to 5 years, with sugar added during the aging process. It’s naturally colored deep ruby red by the cherries.


Unlike Maraschino cherry liqueur (Luxardo), which is also based around cherries, Cherry Heering is more like a sweet cherry brandy.


Peter Heering


Peter Heering began making liqueurs in the early 1800s in Copenhagen, Denmark. He is most famous for his cherry brandy, which took on the name cherry Heering. He began his career working at a pharmacy, trying all sorts of tinctures and tonics. He made friends with his boss’s wife, who gave him her secret cherry cordial recipe. He embraced the potential of this delicious recipe, especially for the ladies, and began producing small batches. Peter officially started production in 1818, as he opened a small shop at age 26.


Peter, growing into a smart young businessman, started trading colonial goods within Copenhagen’s harbor. He made friends with many ship captains, and soon boats heading all over the world became stocked with what he called cherry cordial at the time. Quickly, word spread and people everywhere wanted a taste of this sophisticated Danish cherry liqueur. In 1833, Peter began purchasing his own fleet of ships to better control and monetize his exports. Cases were headed everywhere, from Brazil to Indonesia.


The Heering legacy


When Peter's son, also named Peter, took over in the 1870s, he exited the shipping business to focus on liqueur production. Steam ships had revolutionized worldwide trade, and demand exceeded his current ability to supply. In the early 1900s, the product was renamed to cherry brandy to better align with current palates.


In the 50s and 60s, now renamed Cheery Heering was the second best-selling liqueur in the US, after Benedictine. The Heering family continued to run the business throughout the 1900s.


Recent History


After 182 years, the Peter F Heering company was finally acquired. In 1990, a larger, but local company, the Danish Distillers took control. They were then acquired again by V&S group in 1999, followed by the Tilander family in 2006. The Heering family remained involved until 2017 when the Cheery Heering product was acquired by De Kuyper.


And now, the cocktails!



Singapore Sling

2 oz seltzer

1 ½ oz London dry gin

¾ oz fresh lemon juice

¼ oz demerara syrup (or simple syrup)

½ oz Cherry Heering

¼ oz Benedictine

1 dash Angostura bitters

1 dash Orange bitters

Add seltzer to the bottom of a Collins or highball glass. Add the remaining ingredients to a cocktail shaker and add ice. Shake and strain into glass. Gently add ice to fill the remaining space in the glass.

There are many versions of the Singapore Sling served in all sorts of establishments from tiki to dive bars. There are a range of ingredients including lime, grenadine, and pineapple juice. Beware, many bars will serve it as simply as gin, sour mix, and grenadine.


Here, we follow Smuggler’s Cove's recipe. Not only is Smuggler's Cove arguably the best tiki bar in the US, the owners spent the time to test out many of the popular Singapore Sling recipes and settled on this one as their favorite. We agree, it’s the best Singapore Sling we’ve ever had.



Despite the cocktail's numerous variations, there is universal agreement that the Singapore Sling was created at the most luxury hotel in Singapore in the early 1900s. Ngiam Tong Boon worked as a bartender at the Raffle Hotel bar. He immigrated from China to train as a bartender in Vietnam. After setting into life in Singapore around the turn of the century, he created this play on a gin sling before his death in 1915. With the signature ruby color, early references called it a pink sling. Though likely targeted at women tourists, this drink remains popular 100 years later.



Remember the Maine

2 oz rye whiskey

3/4 oz sweet vermouth

1/3 oz of Cherry Heering

1/8 oz absinthe (or ½ teaspoon glass rinse, if you are new to absinthe)

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass. Fill with ice. Stir.

Strain the mixing glass contents into a chilled coupe.

This play on a Manhattan adds Cherry Heering in place of a small amount of the vermouth, a fun twist instead of adding a brandied cherry. It also replaces the use of bitters with the deliciously herbal absinthe.


This drink was first recorded in the famed Charles H. Baker Jr’s The Gentleman’s Companion from 1939. This two volume set discusses his eating and drinking adventures around the world, including the Pegu Club in modern day Myanmar.


Charles found the Remember the Maine cocktail in Havana in 1933. The name comes from a battle cry that helped kick off the Spanish-American war of 1898. The USS Maine sank mysteriously in Havana's port in 1898, which was controlled by Spain as the time (though may have also been a coal fire). The rally cry “Remember the Maine, to Hell with Spain" was used in newspapers across the US to jump start the war, which lead to Cuba's independence.



Many of you are likely asking, "But what about a Blood and Sand? Fair point. That is another classic Cherry Heering cocktail that I’ll be following up on soon. So keep an eye out for more Cherry Heering cocktails to pop up here or on our YouTube channel, Teakwood Tavern. Researching Cheery Heering provided a plethora of options. This deliciously sweet ingredient is used in many modern and classics alike.


Sending ruby love,

Shen


#cherrybrandy

#cherrycordial

#SingaporeSling

#Londondrygin

#gin

#lemonjuice

#demerarasyrup

#simple syrup

#CherryHeering

#Benedictine

#Angosturabitters

#Orangebitters

#RemembertheMaine

#rye

#sweetvermouth

#Absinthe


You've heard the saying, "Everything old is new again." Wine can definitely attest to that. Ancient production techniques, like the use of clay amphora for fermentation and aging, are now fashionable amongst a new generation of winemakers. And forgotten or ignored varietals are finally being handled with the love and care that was often not afforded to them in the past. Case in point—Silvaner (aka Sylvaner), a white grape that is slowly making a comeback. Don’t worry, I’ll explain the difference in the name shortly.

If you want the short, short version (for you Spaceballs fans), the following video is a summary of what is written below. But we recommend you continue reading if you want the full story.


The name

This white grape variety is known throughout most of the world as Silvaner. However, in Germany, where you’ll find more of it than anywhere else, it is called Grüner Silvaner or Silvaner for short. In Alsace, France, it takes the Sylvaner with a “y” spelling. At the end of the day, if you remember Silvaner or Sylvaner, you’ll likely catch it the next time it comes across your eyes, regardless of the spelling.

DNA

Thanks to DNA profiling, we know that Silvaner is the cross of the grape varieties Savagnin (Traminer) and Österreichisch Weiss. Savignin is one of the most important grape varieties in the world based on its lineage of offspring like Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Gruner Veltliner, and others. Yet, it's rarely produced as a stand alone wine outside of Jura, France.

History

All accounts reflect that the grape originated in Austria. Silvaner then moved to Germany, with the earliest recorded account dating back to 1659 in Franken.

In the first half of the 20th century, it overtook Riesling to become the most planted varietal in Germany. At that time, the region of Rheinhessen was the key area for its popularity and acreage.

Currently, Silvaner is the 4th most planted white variety in Germany. It trails Riesling, Müller-Thurgau, and Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris), and is only slightly ahead of Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc).

Rheinhessen still has the largest acreage of Silvaner in Germany. In general, there are two styles of Rheinhessen Silvaner: a soft, fresh, fruity (but not obnoxiously) wine meant for early drinking, and a robust, dry, and highly extracted wine that can cellar for years.

Yet, as important as Rheinhessen is for Silvaner, if you were to pick a Silvaner from anywhere in the world to try, we’d recommend you grab a bottle from Franken, Germany, and seconded by Alsace, France. Thus, we will explore those regions in greater detail below so you can be better equipped to seek out a delicious bottle of Silvaner.


Aromas, flavors, and style

One of Silvaner’s most endearing qualities is how the wines reflect terrior since the grape itself is somewhat of a neutral canvas. André Ostertag, of Domain Ostertag, was quoted as saying Sylvaner is “a wine that whispers rather than shouts.” Still, that doesn’t mean that there are no aromatics. If you are tasting quality wines, you may find peach, honey, melon, passion fruit, orange blossom, thyme, flint, green apple, and pear. But the minerality and earthiness that can shine through the fruit and floral aromatics is what makes this wine special.

Silvaner is usually produced in a medium alcohol level, which gives it extra body. Some producers, like Stefan Vetter in Franken, also let the wine age on lees to add creaminess and dimension. If you want a weightier white wine, then Silvaner will fit the bill. Silvaner is almost always produced in a dry style. That may be comforting to readers who have grabbed a bottle of German Riesling off the shelf only to find that it was semi-sweet or sweet. You can confidently order a bottle of Silvaners/Sylvaner knowing that the bottle will be dry. Still, Silvaner is capable of aging and with aging comes flavors like honey, ginger and dried peach. A Silvaner with a few years on it may taste sweet because of those flavors, but the residual sugar will not be there, and thus, it won’t actually be a sweet or semi-sweet wine.


Food pairings

When thinking about pairing wines with food, it is often wise to think about what you are trying to showcase—the wine or food. When it’s the latter, Silvaner can be a wise pick. Its acidity can hold up to vinaigrettes in a salad or compliment seafood. It’s wonderful with vegetables and especially asparagus.

I want to make a point about the significance of that last sentence, Silvaner pairs well with asparagus. If you weren’t aware, asparagus is notoriously considered one of the hardest foods for wine pairings. Yet, Silvaner takes the top prize here when most other wines falter. In fact, in Rheinhessen, Germany, the locals pair white asparagus and Silvaner as a local delicacy.

Silvaner is also a good wine to pair with a cheese board. The high acidity and medium alcohol allow it to pair well with various styles of cheese, whether hard or soft. And if you find an aged Franken Silvaner, then bring on the blue cheese! The honey notes will pair beautifully with the funk. Yummmmmm!

Franken (Franconia)


© Franken Tourismus/SML/Hub

If you’ve never heard of Franken as a major wine producing region in Germany, you are not alone. Honestly, I'd put my money on more people knowing about Franken being part of beer loving Bavaria. But Franken is the heart of quality German Silvaner production.

Franken has clay-limestone soil, which often imparts a flint aroma to the local Silvaners. There is also sandstone throughout Franken.

Franken’s climate is continental, which means that there is a large difference between the average temperature of the region’s hottest month and its coldest month. Severe winters and spring frosts are common risks affecting grape-growers.

Silvaner accounts for ¼ of all plantings in Franken. Müller-Thurgau is the most planted varietal; however, Silvaner is what brings the boys to the yard. In Franken, it finds growers who truly understand how to extract its greatness. These wines are full-bodied, earthy, minerally complex, with enough fruit and aromatics to give depth but not overshadow the terrior. And that’s one of the key aspects to great Silvaner, it’s not an overly aromatic grape, which is fine when you realize that what it lacks in aromatics it makes up in showcasing its terrior. For those not familiar with the term terroir, it’s an all-encompassing term for the natural environment that includes components like soil, local topography, and macroclimate.

Another fun aspect of Franken Silvaner is that most of the wines are bottled in the unique Bocksbeutal bottle, with known for its flattened flask shape.


Lastly, if you’re looking for a great Franken producer who it pushing Silvaner into the category of must-try, we recommend that you seek out a bottle from Stefan Vetter. The picture below is from our dinner at Nina Compton’s Compère Lapin in NOLA. That wine was superb!


Alsace, France


©awayandafar.com


Alsace is one of France’s greatest wine regions, and it specializes in white wines. Thus, it’s no surprise that Sylvaner found a home here while growers elsewhere in France ignored the varietal.

Alsace has a cool to moderate Continental climate. The Vosges mountains produce a rain shadow over Alsace that makes the region dry and often causes draught. However, the ever-present sunshine and lack of rain results in guaranteed ripeness, which is a positive for Sylvaner.

Alsace’s love for Sylvaner has diminished over the last fifty years. Back in 1969, Sylvaner accounted for almost 30% of grapes planted. In 2017, it accounted for just 6% of plantings. Sylvaner doesn’t command the price of the Noble Grapes of Alsace (e.g., Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, and Muscat), often regulating it to less desirable vineyard locations.

Still, out of the 51 Grand Cru appellations in Alsace, there is one that is solely for Sylvaner—Zotzenberg, which is located in the commune of Mittelbergheim. This Grand Cru plot has Marl-limestone soil with east/west exposition. Here, Sylvaner reaches its aromatic potential while still exhibiting its finesse and terrior. Zotenberg only became a Grand Cru in 2005.

Alsace is renowned for its varied soil structure so it’s difficult to pinpoint what the soil structure would be like for Sylvaner outside of Zotzenberg without looking up the producer.

At its best, Alsatian Sylvaner is full-bodied with a smoky spice and flavors of honey and melon. These wines can age just like those from Franken. Still, there are plenty of basic, early-drinking Sylvaners.

Alsatian Sylvaner doesn’t grace our shores as often as I’d like, but there are still quality producers who are available in the US. Definitely keep an eye out for Domain Ostertag. Ostertag’s Les Vielles Vignes de Sylvaner comes from vines that are 55 years or older and is grown on soil comprised of clay, granite, and gravel. Kermit Lynch imports this beauty and I’d grab a bottle any day of the week. For this post, we drank Albert Seltz’s Sylvaner de Mittelbergheim and enjoyed it. Seltz also produces a wine from the Grand Cru Zotzenberg, but we couldn’t find that at our local wine monger.

Imported to the US

European Silvaner was common in the US until the 1980s. Unfortunately, there was a lot of bad Silvaner coming onto our shores, and Silvaner reputation faltered as a result. It was often seen as a boring wine. In a New York Times article, Pierre Timbach, winemaker at Maison Trimbach in Alsace, stated that “not one bottle [of Trimbach Sylvaner] is shipped to the U.S.” That’s why I did not mention the famous Trimbach winery as one to seek out for Alsatian Sylvaner.


Other areas

You can also find Silvaner outside of Germany and France. It is grown throughout Central and Eastern Europe. There are also some American producers who are trying their hand at Silvaner. We haven’t had any American Silvaner yet, but we look forward to trying some whenever it crosses our path!

Wines we enjoyed for educational purposes



Hans Wirsching, 2015 Iphofer Kronberg Silvaner Alte Reben, $37


This dry wine was an incredible treat. The wine was already beginning to take on tertiary flavors like petrol, ginger, and hazelnut from its time in the bottle. But there was still plenty of primary aromas and flavors like peach, flint, pear, mint, pineapple, honeysuckle, and apricot. Acidity was medium plus and alcohol came in at 13.5% ABV. The body was medium plus and had a nice rich mouthfeel. The finish was elegant and substantial. This wine will cellar for years to come, but you could also drink it now in its current glory.



Albert Seltz, 2016 Sylvaner de Mittelbergheim, $18


This easy-going wine was delightful for the price point. The wine showcased aromas and flavors of lime, green apple, pear, wet stones, and orange blossom, but these were soft aromatics and not jumping out of the glass. The acidity was medium plus, and the alcohol came in at 13% ABV. The body was medium, and the finish was solid for the price point. This wine's charm is that it would work anywhere and for anyone.

Final thoughts

There’s a good chance that you will struggle to find dozens of examples of Silvaner at your local wine shop or restaurant. Again, Silvaner is rebuilding its reputation in the US. Still, the purpose of this post is to provide you with the knowledge to recognize a fun, unique wine the next time you are in the hands of a sommelier or wine monger who specializes in esoteric wines. As we’ve said before, sommeliers often showcase a few off-the-beaten-path wines on their lists in hopes that they can introduce people to the wines they geek out on. That’s how we came across Sylvaner in NOLA. We asked the somm if he had any obscure wines that he was geeking out on, and we were rewarded with Stefan Vetter’s Sylvaner. And now here I am writing about Silvaner to all of you. My hope is that you take the same leap of faith the next time you are buying a bottle of wine.

Sending geeky love to all,

John


#silvanerwine

#sylvanerwine

#AlsaceFrance

#FrankenGermany

#whitewine

#silvaner

#sylvaner

#Alsace

#franken

#franconia

#frenchwine

#germanwine




Absinthe is one of the most well-known spirits; yet, it is often only known for the misbelief that it makes you hallucinate. Queue EuroTrip scene. However, there is so much more to this incredible spirit, and we’re here to break it down for you. So make yourself a cocktail utilizing absinthe and find your hallucinations elsewhere.



History

Absinthe is named after its primary-botantical, Artemisia absinthium (aka grande wormwood). The earliest recorded used of Artemisia absinthiumm is found in the Ebers Papyrus, which is an Egyptian medical text dated about 1550 BC. The ancient Greeks used the herb for medicinal purposes as well as wormwood-flavored wine.

In 1792, Dr. Pierre Ordinaire developed the first commercial formula. His formula included wormwood bark, star anise, liquorice, fennel, hyssop, parsley, chamomile, spinach, and coriander. He called the drink Extrait d’Absinthe.

In 1805, Henri-Louis Perrenoud established the Pernod Fils absinthe manufacturing company in the French town of Pontarlier, which is on the border of France and Switzerland. To this day, Pontarlier is known as the historic “Capital of Absinthe."

Absinthe’s popularity in France and Switzerland grew exponentially from this point on, especially with phylloxera’s onslaught on European vineyards.

Phylloxera

Phylloxera is a small yellow root-feeding aphid that destroyed two-thirds of European vineyards. In France, phylloxera deveated the wine and grape brandy industries from the 1860 to 1900s. This void opened the door for drinks like absinthe to flourish.

Absinthe became the #1 alcoholic beverage in France during phylloxera’s terror. By the turn of the twentieth century, the French were drinking thirty-six billion liters of absinthe compared to only five billion liters of wine. There’s a fun fact that I bet will impress your friends on your next Zoom happy hour.

Yet, absinthe’s reign didn’t last long due to a horrific murder in Switzerland.

Jean Lanfray

In 1905, Jean Lanfray (a French national living in Switzerland) was arrested and later convicted of murdering his pregnant wife and children. At trial, his attorney argued that his consumption of two glasses of absinthe was to blame for his actions.

Yet, we now know that on the day of the murder, he consumed seven glasses of wine, six glasses of cognac, a brandy coffee, two crème de menthes, and two glasses of absinthe. Still, the temperance movement was gaining traction at this time in Europe and absinthe became a scapegoat for the murders.

In 1907, the Swiss national legislature voted to ban the sale of absinthe and its imitators. In 1908, Switzerland banned the production of absinthe. These prohibitions would have a negative effect on absinthe in the US in the years to come.

US ban

In 1912, the US government banned absinthe. The USDA stated that the Food and Drugs Act of June 30, 1906, made absinthe illegal.


The Food and Drugs Act forbade the importation of any food or drug that is “of a kind . . . forbidden to be sold or restricted in sale in the country in which it is made, or from which it is exported.” Since the sale of absinthe was forbidden in Switzerland, as well as other countries, the US could not import absinthe from Switzerland. Still, it was other language in the Food and Drugs Act that dealt the death blow to absinthe in the US.

Section 11 of the Foods and Drugs Act stated that it was illegal to import any food or drug that is “otherwise dangerous to the health of the people of the United States.” Section 7 of the Act further stated that an article was considered adulterated “if it contains any added poisonous or other added deleterious ingredient which may render such article injurious to health.” It was the USDA’s opinion that wormwood was an “added deleterious ingredient,” and thus absinthe was banned from the US. The active ingredient deleterious in absinthe is wormwood, which contains a chemical called thujone.

Thujone

Thujone is a naturally occurring substance in wormwood. Thujone is a neuro-toxin that can cause hallucinations or death in very large doses. But to be clear, thujone is also found in sage, and you don’t hear of people hallucinating on that, well, depending on who you hang out with. It’s also found in vermouth, which actually takes its name from the German word vermut, which is translated to wormwood in English.

For years, absinthe wasn’t allowed in the US because it was believed that absinthe always contained dangerous levels of thujone. US law prohibited any food or beverage that contains ten parts per million of thujone. Yet, no one ever checked the chemistry of absinthes. That is, until the late 2000s.

Change in US law

There are two products whose parent companies deserve the credit for changing the law—Lucid Absinthe and Kubler Absinthe. There is a wonderful recount of the process on The Virtual Absinthe Museum's website. As you can imagine, it was a legal battle, which might be why I find it interesting.

In short, chemistry in the 2000s was finally good enough to prove that both historical and contemporary versions of absinthe did not contain more than ten parts per million of thujone. That means that there was nothing for the US government to fight about. Case closed. Woohoo, bring on the absinthe!

Well, not exactly.

According to first-hand accounts, the legal challenge focused more on the use of the term absinthe than it was about thujone. This makes sense since science doesn’t lie. The U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau did similar tests and came to the same conclusions as the absinthe producers that the level of thujone was safe. However, absinthe carried a negative moniker that lawmakers believed was code for drugs, regardless of what was actually inside the bottle.

Still, Lucid and Kubler were able to prevail and the law officially changed in 2007. Here’s a link to the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau's announcement outlining the requirements for the licensing of a legal absinthe in the USA.


Flavors, aromas, and proof


In general, most absinthes showcase the following trinity in some form or fashion: anise, fennel, and wormwood. Those are three pungent flavors, and thus absinthe can be a bit much if drank straight.


Absinthe is also a powerful spirit. It is generally distilled to a high proof between 55% and 75% ABV.


One last note on aromas, quality absinthe does not smell of black licorice jelly beans. That usually means that star anise was overly used during distillation, which is often the case for inexpensive products. Quality absinthe, like the one we discuss below, should showcase a balance between anise and all of the other botanicals.


Vieux Pontarlier 65 Absinthe

After all of the talk about the history of absinthe, we want to switch gears and discuss a particular brand of absinthe that we highly recommend—Vieux Pontarlier 65. It is produced in the highest quality, which is important when most cocktail recipes involving absinthe only call for a small quantity of the spirit. It will likely take you a while to finish a bottle of absinthe so it’s worth investing in a quality product. This is the one that we think should grace your home bar.

Vieux Pontarlier is distilled in Pontarlier, France. Vieux Pontarlier uses only wormwood from Pontarlier, and the wormword and other botanicals are distilled in a chardonnay grape base spirit. The chardonnay grapes are grown in historic Burgundy.

Vieux Pontarlier is one of the two last remaining absinthe distilleries operating in Pontarlier, the Capital of Absinthe. Vieux Pontarlier still uses the distillery’s original, pre-ban notes and stills.

Vieux Pontarlier is chartreuse in color. The anise and fennel seeds are prominent but in balance with the other botanicals. Eucalyptus and cacao round out the mouthfeel. For being 130 proof, it is smooth.

Ok, time to get to the cocktails!



Corpse Reviver #2

3/4 oz gin

3/4 oz Cointreau

3/4 oz Lillet blanc

3/4 oz fresh lemon juice

1/8 oz absinthe

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake. Strain into a chilled coupe.

Next up . . .



Phoebe Snow

1.5 oz Cognac

1.5 oz Dubonnet

1/8 oz absinthe

1 dash Angostura bitters

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass. Fill with ice. Stir.

Strain the mixing glass contents into a chilled coupe.

After all that, let me cut to the chase. If you dislike the flavor of anise, then you won’t like drinking absinthe straight. Please, don’t even bother trying it that way. Instead, try it in a cocktail where it is only used in small amounts.


That’s the key to using absinthe in cocktails—small doses add extra dimensions to a cocktail. In the Corpse Reviver #2, the anise flavor blends perfectly with fresh lemon juice. In the Phoebe Snow, the anise flavor shines with the quinine rich Dubonnet. There are many other cocktails that utilize absinthe and we’ve already explored others on this blog: Chrysanthemum, Sazerac, and Bijou. Try those as well and you'll be glad you purchased a bottle of absinthe.


Sending non-hallucinogenic love to all,


John


#absinthe

#corpsereviver2

#gin

#cointreau

#lilletblanc

#phoebesnow

#cognac

#dubonnetrouge

#angosturabitters