I was recently in Houston where I stayed at the wonderful Hotel Sorella in the CityCenter development. Although the hotel’s Radio Milano restaurant and bar was gourmet dining at its best, we discovered an insanely simple indulgence round the corner. At the Grub Burger Bar we never checked out the burgers, but we did discover their boozy milk shakes. It’s such a simple idea. Add a few shots to a shake and – hey, what a drink! Bourbon and caramel milk shake, anyone?
I was reminded of this while reading about Oma’s Cherry Infused Vodka. One of their cocktail recipes was very simple – add the vodka to a Coke and get a boozy Cherry Cola.
My wife’s view after one brief taste was: ‘This is a lovely sipping vodka. I can see it would go well with coke and make a boozy cherry cola, but I think the coke would overpower it and we should try it just with orange juice.’ One of our go-to drinks when we have a sundowner in our Arizona home, and watch the sun go down on the mountains (local saying: ‘when the mountains turn pink, it’s time to drink’) is a generous shot of vodka with about 90% OJ and 10% cranberry juice. You can even reverse the proportions and it’s still a tasty drink, though we haven’t yet tried it with 90% vodka and a splash of OJ and cranberry juice. Perhaps not so good.
I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a waste of good vodka, but I went inside and tried my wife’s suggestion, using two shots of cherry vodka on the rocks and filling the high glass with orange juice. It was a brilliantly refreshing sundowner, and is going to become a regular, I can see.
History of Oma’s Cherry Vodka
So what are we drinking? Oma is the German word for grandmother and the grandmother in question is Hedwig Hintz. There’s a lengthy biography of her on the company’s website, and what an amazing life she has led. She was a young girl in Germany during World War II and at one point a gun battle in their farmyard left 12 soldiers dead. It’s a powerful and real life story, with touching moments and a happy ending after Oma had emigrated to the USA, met her husband, and became a loyal American citizen, which she remains to this day.
Now 91, Hedwig has been making a few gallons of cherry vodka every year since 1952, using it for family parties and to give to friends. Now her grandson Kyle Miller is making larger batches of Oma’s cherry vodka in the traditional way she has always made it. It’s starting to become available to buy, beginning in Illinois (where it’s distilled in Gurnee) and in Michigan (where the cherries are from, picked near Traverse). I hope it rolls out across the country as it’s a delicious vodka.
Infused Cherry Vodka
The cherries are infused in the vodka for four months, which is why there’s such a deliciously deep and rich flavor to the drink. The scent is equally rich, as if you’d stuck your nose into a deep bowl of cherries on a sunny day when they’re ripe and lush. The intense cherry taste, with peppery undertones and a natural fruity sweetness is balanced by the hints of sourness in the cherries, a light touch of spiciness, and the smoothness and strength of the vodka. Unlike many fruit-infused vodkas, which are 35% ABV and sometimes even lower, Oma’s Cherry Infused Vodka is a full-bodied 40%.
Cherry Vodka Cocktails
Oma’s website has some cocktail suggestions, including the simple Cherry Cola I mentioned, and a Cherry Cosmopolitan. I hear that bartenders in Chicago are experimenting by using this delicious vodka to add another layer of taste with a twist on traditional drinks like Cosmopolitans and Manhattans.
Cherry Vodka Bottle
I’m doing this review in a reverse order, as I usually start with the bottle and end with the tasting and cocktail suggestions but this time I’m dealing with the bottle last. It’s a beautifully designed retro-style, which looks like it’s been around forever. It’s a perfect match for the traditionally-made vodka, and for Oma’s story. The clear glass gives the cherry-colored drink great impact.
Oma’s Cherry Infused Vodka has already been given 92 points and a Gold Medal by Tastings.com.