Food & Spirits: Three Cheers for Cherry Kijafa

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It might be the best liquor you’ve never heard of. I was in a liquor store a few months ago, just browsing, and saw a bottle of something called Cherry Kijafa. It was from Finland and only $15, so I figured why not? Sure enough, this stuff wasn’t just good, it was great. It had the perfect balance between sweet and tart and goes down too easy. Coming in at only 16% ABV, Kijafa is a drink that tastes just as good straight as it does on the rocks or mixed with your favorite soda. The label reads that the product is a “cherry wine” with “sugar beet alcohol added”. Well, that does not sound too enticing, but the flavor is well worth the risk. No doubt made with black cherries, it pours out of the bottle with an unexpected thinness. In case you are wondering, “It must taste and look like cough syrup”, the answer is surprisingly no.

I was hooked from my first sip. A friend came over to try it and that quickly became half the bottle. It sat dormant for a couple of months, and the bottle was just finished up the other night, by mixing it into a few drinks with ginger ale and a lemon peel. While you could drink it in a wine glass straight, I would advise trying it with said ginger ale or even sprite, which turns it into an awesome summer drink (and not bad for this warm December either). When mixed with soda, it transforms. The sweetness blends with the sweetness of the soda, but the tartness of the cherry still breaks through. So give it a shot. The price will not break the bank, and you will stumble onto something that I assume not many people know about—they have no website, there is very little information online, and their label is pretty barren, saved for an “1840” pressed into the glass on the top of the bottle.

4.5 out of 5 stars. 

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